Pein Consults

Pein & Konan

I don't own Naruto.

Konan watched her partner, still not moving from where she had been standing for nearly an hour as Pein finally relaxed after going through conversations with all the Akatsuki members. If it hadn't been for her, who had known him for practically all her life, one wouldn't even be able to tell the difference, but he was certainly more relaxed.

"Konan," the blue-haired woman turned around to see Pein looking at her. The chilly eyes of the Rinnegan didn't make her flinch in inexplicable fear as everyone else did; instead, she oddly felt drawn to it. It was almost as if she had fallen in love with those eyes, but she knew that it wasn't the eyes that she had fallen in love with.

"Yes, Pein?" She replied. Only Konan even dared to address her partner by his 'name'. And even she seldom mentioned his true name, as he had stated that he had left behind his former identity long ago. Apparantly, that hadn't changed after his death and resurrection.

"Why do you think I've decided to have this conference in the first place?" Konan blinked at her partner's question. She certainly had wondered that; she had seen Pein talking with every one of their members with matters that apparantly disturbed them a lot, but Konan rather missed the whole point of the activity. But she was surprised that Pein had asked it himself; she would have asked that to him, if she wasn't afraid that he'd be offended.

"Why is it so?" She asked him back, who smiled ever so slightly. Konan felt a soft rush of warmth inside her; Pein never altered his facial excpression in front of anyone except those small moments where he would smile at her. She felt grateful... and a little special, for some reason. Was it just because she felt that her God favored her above all else?

"Pain is the answer." Came the reply. Konan was not surprised; Pein had a knack for cryptic answers, and this one wasn't even that mysterious. She was acutely aware of what her partner was inferring to. "They are all S-rank missing-nin, feared by all and respected by some. Everyone is too busy fearing them, loathing them, to truly see their pained past ... and through them the present. In truth, they are merely men who are scarred for life, hiding their pain behind the mask of terror that everyone sees. That is why I respect them as members of the Akatsuki: they know pain better than most."

Konan listened to her partner in awe. She always respected Pein's intelligence and insight, but she had never realized that he had already seen what their comrades have been hiding deep within their minds, to a place where even their owners themselves had forgotten them.

She was so deep in thought over this that Pein's next question completely caught her offguard. "And what about you, Konan?"

"Excuse me?" She asked. She was about to say more, but Pein's expression pushed the words straight down her throat. She had rarely seen her partner betray any kind of emotion since he took up the name that everyone now called him. She could sometimes detect faint traces of it hidden within him, but he never revealed those emotions anyone to be seen. So it came as quite a shock to see his deathly-white face twisted with unhappiness.

"Does it pain you to see me like this?" He said quietly as he looked down at his own body... which was, well, technically NOT his body.

"Pein..." said Konan as she tried to reach out to him, but when he raised his head to look at her she was again shocked by the genuine grief that was reflected in his face.

"Do you miss Yahiko?"

It felt as if the words have stabbed Konan through her heart. She suddenly remembered what day it was. She felt something trickling down her cheek, but didn't realize that it was her tears until they blurred her vision until she couldn't even recognize her partner's face.

She felt Pein's face wipe the tears away, but when her vision cleared she saw that he was avoiding her gaze, expression crumbling away in guilt.

"Forgive me," he mumbled, dropping his gaze. "I shouldn't have asked that."

"No, no," said Konan, shaking her head gently. She was indeed shocked by the question, and it did sting her, but she knew perfectly well that she wasn't suffering as bad as Pein himself. "I do miss Yahiko, Nagato, but that doesn't mean I hate you for letting him kill himself with your blade. You don't have to feel guilty; nothing could have stopped him from dying."

"He always talked about saving the world from this tide of hatred," said Pein, waving his hands toward the window. Konan spared a glance at the outside, and saw that the everlasting rain of Amegakure hadn't resumed falling since Pein had stopped it during Sasori's consult. "He always wanted to make the rain stop."

"He had noble dreams," Konan agreed. "He may be gone, but they haven't died with him. Do you know why? Because you are carrying them on in Yahiko's place. You've become God, just as Yahiko had wished to be. You are readying a world where peace reigns, a world Yahiko had always dreamed of."

"And I'm not doing that much of a good job, am I?" Said Pein bitterly. Konan opened her mouth to protest, but he continued without a pause: "I'm nothing but Yahiko's shadow, Konan. Everything that he was and wanted to be, I tried to be... but it was only half a success."

"Don't say that!" Konan exclaimed forcefully. When Pein looked at her in surprise, she carried on: "There is no point on wondering what Yahiko would have done. You are not Yahiko, nor a shadow of him. You are Nagato, the leader of Akatsuki and the leader of Amegakure!"

Pein looked at her queerly for a short while. Then he said: "I never thought you would compare me to Yahiko in such a way."

"Huh?" Asked Konan. She barely registered the fact that their conversation was slowly changing from that of partners in a criminal organization to a casual conversation between two old friends. Standing in front of her was not the cold and apathic leader that she had served for for so long, but he had grown quite a lot from the quiet and shy boy that she had grown up with for years. For once she could almost believe Pein's catchphrase: "Pain causes people to grow up."

"I never thought I could make you uncomfortable by using Yahiko's body as my own..." Her partner murmured, briefly raising his hand to touch one of the metallic studs that jutted out of his cheek. "Perhaps it hurts you to see me forcefully using the body of someone you loved..."

Konan nearly doubled over in shock. "Me?" She gasped. "In love with Yahiko?"

"Don't look at me as if you don't know what I'm talking about," said Pein, sounding oddly hurt and amused at the same time. "We've lived together for almost twenty years, Konan. I see you mourning for Yahiko every year on the anniversary of his death... and today was no exception."

"Silly," said Konan, wiping her tears away again. "Of course I do. He was our friend. Maybe I've loved him in the past, Nagato, but that is the past. Yahiko is my past."

"But you... you are my present, Nagato."

Pein's eyes went round at Konan's words in shock. Konan was almost equally shocked as her partner's body reeled back slightly. Pein never, ever showed that kind of emotion.

"Konan... you...?" He stammered.

"Nagato..." Konan murmured, moving over to him. "I thought you would have realized this by now. I love you. Not only as an angel that worships her god, but as a woman to her friend."

She would have said more, if Pein hadn't suddenly pulled her in for a fierce embrace. She was so surprised that she couldn't even flinch back in response.

"Is that answer enough for you?" Pein whispered into her ears. She nodded.

"Come on," said Pein, pulling apart and looking into her eyes. "Bedtime."

Eh, sorry for the crappy ending... I should improve on writing something serious. Anyway, R&R!