A/N: This takes place immediately after my last post, so you may want to go back to refresh your memory.
Also, I am delighted to report that this story now has fan art! It's for the makeout scene in the guidance office, it was drawn by missmocha77, and can be found at
Thanks to everyone who hasn't lost interest in this story despite the fact that I write slower than a sea slug in the desert, especially my beta reader, known on here as Blubelba.
"And a virgin drink for the virgin" – Hidan.
"Where did he go?" Sakura asked.
Hidan shrugged. "Dunno. Wherever he always goes, I guess. He doesn't usually tell us."
"Let's go back upstairs," said Hidan. "Pain'll want to meet you."
"I will remain here," said (black?) Zetsu. "Goodbye, Sakura-san."
"It was nice to meet you…both," Sakura said politely. As she and Hidan climbed back up the stairs, she asked, "Is Pain his real name?"
Hidan rolled his eyes. "Of course not. He has another name, but only Konan is allowed to use it."
Sakura waited. When Hidan didn't say anything more, she asked, "Are you going to tell me what it is?"
"Hopefully Pain'll tell you himself. If he tells you his real name, it means he trusts you. Now stop fucking stalling and go on," said Hidan, practically pushing her through the door.
Sakura looked up and quickly looked away again. Pain was kissing Konan so thoroughly it made her blush. She thought she remembered Hidan telling her that they were dating. Pain broke the kiss after a few seconds and stepped away from Konan, giving Sakura her first good look at his face.
He was tall and thin, with steel grey eyes and bright orange hair, which might have been the most unusual thing about him, if not for the piercings. She had never seen anyone with so many facial piercings. Pain's outer ears were completely covered with metal, as were both nostrils. He had several piercings going through each eyebrow, a few more on his lower lip, and when he'd opened his mouth to kiss Konan, she even thought she saw a tongue piercing.
Pain turned his head slightly and looked straight at Sakura. "Who are you?" he asked.
Hidan stepped forward. "She's with me."
"She's Hidan's new girlfriend," said Deidara.
"I'm not his girlfriend!" Sakura protested. "We're just friends."
"Do you have a name, friend of Hidan?" Pain inquired.
Sakura blushed. "My name is Sakura Haruno."
"I am Pain. Welcome to my store. Would you like something to drink?"
"Yes, please. I'll have a Diet Coke."
"I'm afraid we don't have any soft drinks. We have rum, whiskey, tequila, beer, and vodka."
"Oh, right," Sakura blushed again, feeling like an idiot. Of course Pain was talking about alcohol. She was with a gang, not at a friend's house! "Just tap water, please."
Deidara went to get her water and then invited her to join him and Sasori. Kisame and Konan joined them soon after, and the four of them began to talk about people Sakura didn't know. She gathered they were from another gang. The Akatsuki had apparently been having trouble with a gang called Sound, named for the music notes on their bandanas and their unfortunate preoccupation with screaming rock music. Sound usually respected the Akatsuki's claim to the area south of Konoha because they knew that the gang was tough despite its small size, but, lately, some punk called Zaku had been running his mouth and trying to stir up trouble. Zaku didn't have many followers within Sound, only a bald guy called Dosu and a few women. Kisame and Deidara wanted to go "teach Zaku a lesson," but Konan told Sakura that they were merely keeping an eye on the situation, and would only move when Pain gave the order to attack.
Meanwhile, Pain took Hidan aside and whispered, "What were you thinking, bringing her here?"
The reproach in Pain's voice took Hidan aback. "What's your problem, man? I've brought chicks here before…"
"Sluts and stoners, not middle-class suburbanites. They wouldn't dare to rat us out, and, if they did, no one would believe them. This girl is different. I won't stop you from pursuing her if you've changed your type, but I won't let you bring her here again. How do you know she won't go to the police and tell them we kidnapped her or some such bullshit?"
"Sakura wouldn't do that," said Hidan, but in his heart, he wasn't so sure. Technically, he had kidnapped Sakura, and she had said she didn't want to meet the other members of his gang. He thought she was different than Kohana, less bitchy, but if he was wrong and she did go to the cops… well, they'd be screwed.
Pain studied Hidan for a while, and finally said, "I hope you're right, for her sake as well as ours."
A chill ran down Hidan's spine. Pain did not make idle threats, and he always followed through with everything he said. If Sakura betrayed them, Pain would hurt her, and hurt her badly. Fortunately, he seriously doubted that Sakura was that treacherous… or that stupid.
Over with the rest of the Akatsuki, Sakura was trying to look at Kisame without being too obvious about it, while wondering how she could politely inquire how his skin came to be such an odd color. And were those gills on the side of his face? It couldn't be… right?
Kisame sighed. "Just ask already."
"You want to know why I'm blue and why I have gills."
Sakura stared at him. "What—what did you say?"
"I. Am. Blue. And. I. Have. Gills."
Sakura knew what he was doing. He was trying to get her to ask why he had gills so he could make fun of her for believing such a ridiculous lie. It was just like the time in 8th grade when Ino had asked her if she'd wanted to smoke a cigarette with her. Sakura had been so happy to have her friend back she'd said "yes" right away, but Ino only gave her a dirty look and said she thought smoking was disgusting. Sakura still didn't know if she could have passed Ino's test by declining the offer, or if Ino would have made fun of her no matter what.
"I… don't believe you," Sakura said uncertainly.
"It's true," said Deidara, joining in. "I have mouths in my hands."
"Stop it," Sakura said, getting upset. "Stop making fun of me!"
"We're not making fun of you," said Deidara, shoving the palm of his hand in front of Sakura's face. "Look."
Sure enough, Deidara had what looked like a human mouth on the palm of his hand. The lips opened and closed as she watched, and a pink tongue darted out to lick her cheek.
When Deidara took his hand away, Sakura was severely shaken. "What are you?" she whispered.
"Human experiments," said Kisame.
"Human… experiments," Sakura repeated.
"Yeah," said Deidara.
"But what is that—how is that even possible?"
"It's what happens when men with lots of money give that money to scientists with lots of crazy ideas," said Sasori. Sakura jumped at the sound of his voice. She hadn't known he was standing behind her, listening to their conversation. "I am one of them too, as is Zetsu. Itachi, Pain, and Konan are fully human, as is your precious Hidan. We met them after we escaped from the facility."
"What facility?" Sakura asked.
"It was a secret underground military research facility on Chikoku Island,*" Sasori replied. Sakura gave a soft gasp. She'd been to Chikoku Island! It was a small island about a 30-minute drive and a short boat ride away from Konoha that provided a cheap vacationing spot for campers and beachgoers. A small plot of land on the west side of the island was designated "private property" and was closed off with a high, barbed wire fence. Sakura had always heard that the owner used the land to hunt. It was insane to think it concealed the entrance to a secret underground research facility! It was like something that would happen in a movie, not real life. But still… she could see the mouths on Deidara's hands! That was not normal!
"Not the Chikoku Island right outside Konoha?"
"The very same," Sasori confirmed. "We were created by combining genetically-enhanced DNA with human stem cells. In Kisame's case, they used genetically-enhanced shark DNA, in Zetsu's case, they used plant DNA, and in Deidara's and my case, they used a combination of animal, mineral, and human DNA. We were held separately in titanium-reinforced cages, and we were rarely allowed any human interaction. Every 6 months they would stop feeding us for a couple of days to weaken us, then they'd put us in restraining harnesses and take us to see the head scientist. He was a young man with silver-grey hair and a creepy smile. We called him Megane-sensei** because of the large, round glasses he wore. He'd ask us some questions about our abilities, take blood samples, and scribble something in his notebook. When he was done with us, he would put us into a holding area with 50 or so other 'experiments' so he and the other scientists could watch us interact. Usually, we just talked, since we were all restrained, but every so often, someone would get free and try to escape. That never ended well. Sometimes, the escapees managed to kill a few scientists, but they were always recaptured in the end."
"Ugh, you're taking forever," Deidara interrupted. "Get to the good part."
Sasori glared at him. "Unlike you, some of us do not have infinitesimal attention spans. Anyway, on one of these observation days, a bomb went off inside the research facility. "
"Most of the 'experiments' were killed, but we escaped," said Kisame. "Zetsu, Sasori, and Deidara stole a boat, and I swam to the mainland. Pain found us, we formed the Akatsuki, and the rest is history."
"We were the original five members of the Akatsuki," Deidara said proudly. "Kakuzu joined later, then Itachi, then Hidan. Konan was the last one to join, and the first female."
Sakura didn't know what to say. "That's just… wow…"
"We've never told anyone before," said Kisame, which made Sakura feel kind of…special.
"At least, not anyone who was sober enough to remember," said Deidara. At Sakura's questioning look, he added, "What, you think you're the first chick Hidan's brought here? Although, you are definitely the classiest."
Sasori shot Deidara a glare that said shut up idiot, but Deidara ignored him and asked Kisame if he remembered "that crack whore Hidan brought who was so stoned she thought it was the drugs making his skin look blue."
Sakura felt a little…Not disappointed. Annoyed. She knew Hidan hit on lots of women and prided himself on his playboy status. In fact, it was one of the reasons why she wouldn't respond to his advances. But, she also knew he didn't really care about any of those women. When he first brought her to Pain's she'd thought it meant something. It was flattering, even though she didn't feel the same way. It was nice to get attention from a guy, for once, even if it wasn't the guy she wanted. Now she knew this was just part of Hidan's routine when he was looking for an easy lay. He didn't even want her, he just wanted to fuck her.
Konan came up behind Sakura and set a bottle of vodka down on the table. Her eyes were bright and her face was a bit flushed. "Well, let's go," she said.
"Go where?" Sasori inquired.
"Vick's, of course."
Pain looked over at them from where he was sitting with Hidan and Itachi and said, "Let Hidan take Sakura home first."
"Why? She can come with us," said Hidan.
Pain looked at him incredulously and said, "You want to take your friend to Vick's?"
"It's a bar," Hidan said calmly.
"I'm too young to go to a bar, and so are you," said Sakura.
"Relax. You don't have to drink. Think of it as an educational experience," Hidan advised.
"Hidan, do you remember what happened the last time we went to Vick's?" Sasori asked.
"It grew back, didn't it? Don't be such a fucking pussy."
"I was merely concerned for your girlfriend," Sasori said coolly.
"I am not—"
"Girlfriend or not, I don't think she wants to get caught in the middle of a bar fight," Pain interrupted.
"There are fights at Vick's?" Sakura hoped she didn't sound too apprehensive, though she was liking the idea of going to Vick's less and less.
"Sometimes," said Hidan.
"All the time," said Deidara, grinning.
"Bullshit," Hidan replied. "Something doesn't happen every time."
"Name a time we went to Vick's and didn't get into a fight," Deidara challenged.
"Some punk hit Pain and I smashed a bottle into his face," said Konan.
"On my 20th birthday-"
"You fought some guys over a girl, and I had to carry you back here because Kakuzu was negotiating a business deal," said Kisame.
"I can't remember them because they were so fucking boring," Hidan concluded. "It's always easier to remember days when something actually happened.
"You can't remember them because they don't exist," said Deidara.
"For once, I agree," said Sasori.
"Fuck you all," said Hidan. "Fighting's the best part of being in a gang."
"Sakura isn't in the Akatsuki," Pain pointed out.
"And I don't like to fight," Sakura added.
"That is bullshit," Hidan said confidently.
"No it's not!" Sakura said, suddenly upset. "You don't know anything about me."
"Then why are you always fighting with me?"
Sakura opened her mouth to retort, but found she couldn't come up with anything.
"Soooo," said Deidara. "Are we gonna go now?"
Vick's didn't look like much from the outside. It was less than 15 minutes away from Pain's Motors, which was apparently all it took to get from the sort-of-sketchy part of town to the bad part of town. Judging from the looks she was getting from the guys in the parking lot, Sakura was actually glad to be there with a gang.
The members of Akatsuki all parked their bikes and followed Pain into the bar. Sakura went in last, and, for a moment, she was confused because everyone had stopped by the door.
Then she saw the bandanas. Most of the people in the bar had musical notes on their bandanas, which, judging from what Konan had told her, meant they were members of the Sound gang.
Oh well, Sakura thought. She hadn't really wanted to go to the bar anyway.
The members of the Akatsuki looked to Pain to see what he would do. When he didn't either leave or go further into the bar, Hidan decided to take matters into his own hands.
"They don't own the fucking bar," Hidan announced, taking a seat by the bar. After a tense moment, the Sound gangsters went back to doing whatever they were doing. Three of them were sitting on the opposite end of the bar from Hidan, four of them were sitting at a table playing cards, and a bunch of them were gathered around the pool table, betting on a game.
Pain, Konan, Sasori, and Itachi got a table, and Deidara and Kisame joined Hidan at the bar. Kisame was wearing an oversize hoodie so that his blue skin was in shadow, and Deidara was wearing gloves to hide the mouths on his hands. Though, from the way he was scratching his palms, Sakura suspected that the gloves must itch horribly.
Deidara and Kisame sat to the left of Hidan, and Sakura sat on his right.
"I'll have a vodka. Straight up," Hidan said to the bartender. "And a virgin cocktail for the virgin."
Hidan raised an eyebrow. "Well, aren't you?"
"Yes, but that's not the point!" Sakura hissed.
"800 yen," the bartender said to Hidan. Hidan paid him, and a minute later he came by with their drinks. Sakura's tasted like pineapple and coconut. ("Add alcohol and you'd have a piña colada," said Hidan.)
Sakura and Hidan talked to Kisame and Deidara for a while, and then Hidan introduced her to the proprietor of the establishment. Vick was a tall, bald guy with thick eyebrows and bulging muscles. He didn't say much, but he had large, expressive eyes. Sakura thought he seemed like the type who didn't get angry often, but when he did, all hell broke loose. When she told Hidan this, he laughed and said she was right on the money (an expression he had no doubt picked up from Kakuzu).
While Hidan was in the middle of a story about the time Vick broke his own bar stool, Sakura felt something brush up against her butt. She turned around and saw a skinny guy with spiky hair and a Sound bandana grinning insolently at her.
Hidan wound a possessive arm around her waist. "Keep your fucking hands off my woman," he growled, glaring at the Sound gangster.
"I'm not your woman," Sakura snapped, offended at being treated like an object.
Hidan shot her an exasperated look that said, I know you're not, but now would be a fucking good time to play along.
The stranger laughed. "Tough luck, dude. Looks like she's up for grabs."
His hand closed around Sakura's wrist as he pulled her off the bar stool. Her nose bumped into his chest, and she wrinkled her nose at the smell of alcohol on his breath. Sakura heard a rough, scraping sound as Hidan pushed away his chair and got to his feet. She hoped he wouldn't do anything stupid, but, knowing him, that was like hoping for a camel that could fit through the eye of a needle.
Meanwhile, the members of the Sound and the Akatsuki stood up and glared at each other, each daring the other side to throw the first punch. Hidan had to fucking kill the fucker right fucking now, but dammit, this was a gang matter and he couldn't move until Pain gave the okay.
A mantra of this is not good, this is not good, this is REALLY not good was running through Sakura's head, but shetried to laugh it off and walk away.
"Hey you didn't mean anything by it, right?" she said to the guy, forcing a smile. She tried to pull away, but he grabbed her wrist tighter. What an asshole.
"Let go," she hissed.
He laughed again, pulled her closer, and patted her ass. She could feel him smirking at Hidan over her shoulder, waiting for Hidan to challenge him as if she was nothing more than a pretty object to be possessed by the alpha male. Well, screw that!
Sakura raised her leg and came down hard on his instep, hearing a crunching noise that might have been the sound of bone breaking.
He screamed, but the sound was cut off when she slammed her fist into his face with the force of a bullet train. He flew backward, sliding across one of the tables until his head hit the wall with a sickening crack.
Sakura lowered her arm to her side, panting heavily.
Members of both gangs stared at her incredulously.
*Chikoku Island is an island I made up. The "chi" part comes from "chiisai," which means small. I don't know what "koku" means, but it's a suffix used for a lot of Japanese islands.
**Megane-sensei means "Dr. Glasses." I won't refer to this character by his real name for several chapters (because Kisame et. al don't know his real name), but you should be able to guess who it is.
Also, 800 yen is about $8. I almost put it in dollars, 'cause, whatever, they probably don't have piña coladas in Japanese bars anyway…but I have to draw the research line at some point or chapters won't get posted.