Hello! Thanks to ScaredToDeathYaoi for getting me motivated to finish this chapter.

There are the usual warnings - swearing and sexual references - but I still hope you enjoy it. :D


CHAPTER EIGHT—
Akatsuki at Work


Date: Wednesday. September 8th, 2010.

Time: Morning. 6:00am.

Location: My house.

Mood: Tired and irritated.

Current act: waking up the sleepyhead's—Akatsuki.

"Get up," I demanded. I received a moan from both artist's, and one of them—Sasori—grumbled as he turned over in his bed. I nudged both of them with a foot. "Get up."

"Fish, if you touch me one more time, you'll... go...bang," Deidara mumbled into his pillow. I gleefully noted Jubjub under his arm before I narrowed my eyes.

"I thought I told you to stop calling me that," I growled. He chuckled before turning over, twisting the sheets around his lithe body as he did so. "Okay, enough." Without another word, I untucked the ends of their sheets from the mattress and prepared to pull when a hand stopped me.

I jumped, looking up to meet tired but excited eyes of pink: Hidan. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw Kakuzu leaning against the archway with his arms crossed. He held up two fingers and gestured to himself, so I stood up quietly, Hidan taking the sheets, and crossed over to the now un-masked man. As an afterthought, he was more intimidating when not shading his jaw with that white cloth.

"Rise and shine, sleeping beauties," Hidan teased.

"Piss off, Hidan," Deidara grumbled. Sasori remained resolutely silent, and I wondered if he was asleep again.

The only warning they got was a chuckle from Hidan before he slipped off both sheets in one swoop, exposing them to the rather chilly morning air. Deidara kicked impulsively, his foot knocking Hidan's leg so that he fell back.

"You bastard!" Deidara yelled, sitting up finally. I sniggered at his unruly bed-hair that looked much akin to a bird's nest. He moaned loudly as he ran a hand through his yellow locks.

Sasori sat up as well, his brown eyes glazed heavily as he started to rub the sleep from his eyes. I felt a little sorrier for the red-head, mostly because he was still adjusting to a human body, and was therefore more exhausted. If Pein meant that Sasori was now catching up on the lack of sleep from so many years, then I was surprised he was able to wake up at all—though he did seem as though he'd collapse back into bed right then.

"Why are we getting up this early?" Deidara grumbled again.

"Stop complaining, Barbie," Hidan said – he must have seen the dolls that my sister and I used to play with that were now in the storeroom downstairs, unless... did they have barbie dolls where they came from? "You've gotten up earlier before."

"I hate this time difference."

"He's got a point," Kakuzu agreed. "We've been here for several nights and we're not all used to it."

I nodded slightly. "Or maybe it's because of how late you guys are going to bed?"

At once all of them glared at me, and I released a strangled cry of fright before I grabbed the sheets from Hidan and scampered out of the room. I was glad I was already dressed in some old clothes. I breached the living room and saw Zetsu sitting at the couch, a white hand streaming through his green shock of hair. He looked up when I entered and I shivered at his yellow gaze, feeling undeniably scared by it.

It was the first time I had seen him affected by the annoyingness of sleep. The image was odd.

I swallowed as I waved a feeble 'hello' before turning into the kitchen, trying to ignore his glare on my back. Konan was there with Kisame, both of them eating some cereal. There were several boxes on the table along with a pile of bowls and spoons. At this I stopped, surprised.

"Causing stress to you won't help us," Konan explained. Kisame was chomping madly, staring at his spoon that I now saw had some teeth marks on it. Noting this too, Konan said, "Use it lightly, Kisame, or you'll break it."

"The wood for the chopsticks back home are stronger than this piece of shit," he complained. He growled and grabbed a cereal box, staring at the front cover. "Fucking sultana's," he cursed.

"Will you be fine getting the groceries yourself?" Konan asked, speaking slightly louder as the giant blue man gnawed even harder. I grimaced when he tried picking some of the brown small fruits from his teeth; and the older female sighed into a hand in a 'I-can't-believe-he's-doing-that' way.

My lips still peeled back in distaste, I answered with, "Maybe. It depends. Does any of the Akatsuki have any allergies? Favourite, least favourite foods? Ah, but you're probably used to eating Japanese food, not Western food."

"Yes. Then would you like one of us to come with you?"

I felt the chills slither up my spine at the mere thought, and was more than prepared to open my mouth and say, clear and bold, 'no thanks,' but someone had cut in before I got the chance to make a peep.

"You have a money limit, girl," Kakuzu rumbled as he entered the kitchen and sat down opposite Kisame, reaching for the cereal boxes and inspecting the front cover. "I should go with you."

A snort cracked before I could stop it, and the three slowly looked up at me as though I had sneezed on the feet of Pein himself. I did my fish impersonation and stumbled back a few steps. "I-I didn't mean it like that. K-Kakuzu would just stand out a lot, because of how he looks. You know, the stiches and stuff; not to mention the eyes. I-I mean, no offense, they're interesting eyes but they're not normal around here, and people will most definitely stare. And—"

"Woah, girly," Kisame cut in, beaming; I sucked my lips in to stop myself. He continued chomping away on the remainder of the Sultana Bran he had in his bowl.

"Kakuzu will keep the amount of money used to the minimum—" Kisame snorted, "—and he's also aware of what sorts of food the Akatsuki do or don't like," Konan explained, popping the spoon back into her mouth before dipping it into her cereal.

The money-lover glared at me, as if daring me to oppose what he did and was good at, but would I seriously with those eyes directed at me? They made me tremble on the spot and feel like I was choking on my own lips. I nodded weakly.

He poured some food, still watching me. "I'll wear a disguise, if I must."

Zetsu stumbled in past me right then, brushing my arm as he did. My hair immediately stood on edge as he glanced back at me with those freaky yellow eyes of his and lethargically lowered himself into a chair. I couldn't help but notice, either, that his pants were much looser around his waist, and that as he sat they almost slid right off. I blushed a deep red and looked up, trying to dismiss his disgruntled growl as he pulled them up again.

"Wear your mask," the ex-plant-man suggested. He stared at the two cereal boxes carefully, before sniffing at them. That was the first time I had heard him speak, I believe. I didn't quite understand his two voices, but this one sounded quite light compared some of the Akatsuki, so I assumed it was his white side.

Kisame frowned. "Why should he?"

"People back home wore masks when sick, idiot," he responded casually, his last word going considerably deeper. It was so smooth the way he spoke, like he didn't even know that there were two personalities within him.

"Alright, alright," Hoshigaki hushed, going back to eating.

But I understood where Zetsu was going. "He'll get glanced at, sure, but at least there's a reason," I said. "It's still winter, too, so I'll go look for something with long sleeves for you to wear." I still hated the thought of him accompanying me, but I understood when I was defeated, so I stumbled quickly back upstairs.

"Pein is still sleeping, Faye, so please be quiet!" I heard Konan call from behind me.

I skidded on the carpet, completely forgetting about the orange-haired leader lying in bed in the room just metres in front of me. My mind seemed to diverge in two different paths right then. Would he hurt me involuntarily for disturbing him? Should I even go in there? Shouldn't I wait until I returned from school to go look for something? That was one side; the other line of thought was completely different. Did he sleep with a shirt on? Did he sleep on his stomach or his back? Did he move around a lot? What did he sleep in; boxers or briefs?

I knew that Jordan wore boxers, but Callum was secretive about which one he wore when the girls and I tried to scrape the answer out of him. I think he just liked to see us squirm in not knowing the answer, but I have a niggly feeling that he wore briefs.

My eyes sealed shut when images of Pein sporting briefs with smiley faces came into mind, and a loud shudder convulsed my body.

"Move, Fish-face," a voice interrupted me, and I opened my eyes again to see Deidara and Sasori glaring at me from beneath their bedraggled fringes, thick bags under their eyes so that they resembled zombies. I meeped and slid passed them, hunched over as I stole my way to the end room, still trying to herd those scary images from my mind. The last thing I heard as I entered my parent's room was Sasori and Deidara cursing me for getting them up so early, and Hidan clambering out of my room.

The room was dark; like a horror movie dark. Air left my body when I saw a shadow moving on the bed (the window, the light coming through, was behind it) and I had to stop my heart from its temporary freeze-attack when I realised it was Pein's chest expanding. Somehow, if I wasn't so freaked out by the Leader, I would have thought it was quite erotic...

I ignored his soft breaths as I tip-toed over to my parent's cupboard and softly slid open the door. Pawing through the coat-hangers in the dark, I realised that Dad had left a lot of his coats behind. At first I thought it was weird but then remembered that he was going to Hawaii, and thus wouldn't need it as much. Eventually finding one that I thought was suitable, I quickly took it, closed the door, turned around and – I died.

Just kidding.

But it certainly feel like it when my heart did leap out of its cavity, because as soon as I turned I saw Pein looming over me, one side of his face faintly illuminated and sweat beading down his cheek bones. His eyes, though, unnerved me, and I stopped breathing as I backed up against the cupboard and fought a scream – it was right on my lips.

"What's your definition of 'quiet', Gomez?" he asked me softly, his voice somehow echoing around the room.

I couldn't make a sound. I literally couldn't. I was frightened to the core.

"Even your quaking is loud," he mumbled as he leaned back and ran a hand through his orange mane. My eyes involuntarily dropped to his exposed chest, and I felt heat rise to my cheeks.

I was just barely getting used to seeing Hidan walk around without a shirt, but to see the Leader of the Akatsuki without one was just... mind-blowing. It was one of those things you had on a list of things that you would never see in a million years. I guess my million years were up. And it wasn't that I wasn't used to seeing bare chests, it's just that... how often do you see them like this?

He must have heard me gulp and he glared down at me again. I trembled and slid to the floor, clutching my Dad's jacket like my life depended on it, and made sure that my gaze was glued to something other than him. I only glanced up when I heard him slipping something on, and he was; his ninja shirt.

I caught a glimpse of his back muscles and pressed myself harder against the cupboard.

I couldn't deny it. Even though he has got pasty white skin, and forgetting the fact that he was a criminal, a fictional (dead) character, and so on, I liked what I saw.

Female with hormones. Duh. How could I not react?

"I-I-I sh-should go," I squeaked, face red, and I tripped over my socked feet as I sprinted out the door, slammed it shut and collapsed right outside. I panted, and froze again when I heard the click of it opening again. I could practically feel Pein staring at my back as I lay crumbled up on the floor in front of him. It was sort of embarrassing.

"Don't you have something to show us?" he asked. I nodded.


"Fuck this shit!" Hidan hissed. I had told them to be silent considering my neighbours may be asleep still. He dunked the white sheet back into the tub of hot water, all the while glaring at me supervising him. The look unnerved me, but then again, so did everyone else's whenever I walked passed them.

They'd glower and bare their teeth, muttering curses under their breath. Oddly, it stung, but at the same time I didn't care. They seemed to have gotten the hang of it, and were pretty good at teamwork, but I was still worried that if I turned my back for a second, a water fight or something would occur—or maybe a riot.

Zetsu seemed to be having a little fun, though. He was opposite Hidan, continually dunking the sheet in all the way so that the water climbed further up his arm. He liked the water, it seemed. Looking up, I noticed Itachi watching out the window. He was leaning on it like he was half asleep, his tired eyes staring down at his teammates as they worked. Hidan and Deidara had a few good choice words to say to the Uchiha, but, as always, the man remained unmoved. Pein was having a late breakfast. I bloated my cheeks in amusement when I saw him looking at a spoon that Kisame must have used earlier.

Sasori and Deidara were soaping the sheets then giving them to Kakuzu and Kisame who would wash the soap off. None of the four were happy—Kisame a little more elated—but Deidara was furious. His hands kept coughing up soap suds, and he blamed it on me. Konan was at the end, hanging up the washing on the line, something that I was assisting in until then when I noticed the time.

It was seven thirty.

"Watch them, Uchiha!" I half-yelled to the black-head. He gave me a half salute as I disappeared inside and got ready for school. I feared what the house would be like when I got back, as well as how my excursion with Kakuzu will go.


"Goodness, Faye," Paprika sighed, inspected my hands. "They look like shrivelled prunes with scars."

I snorted in amusement. "Thanks, Pappy."

Since I had helped out in demonstrating how to hand wash the sheets, my skin on my hands decided to look like they had withered and died. It was very unappealing, especially since the marks from my paper cuts and Deidara-bite was now glowing red against my white skin. It didn't help that as soon as I was leaving through the front door of my house, Hidan had decided to storm through it and ditch a soap brush at me so that I had a wet and soapy patch on my back. I feared even more for what was awaiting me back home.

Charlie frowned at me. "Faye, that's not right."

"What do you mean?" I asked as the three of us headed to our spot for recess, where the two males of our group were already wrestling like a couple of boys.

"You would have told us that your 'rents were leaving on a holiday and we would have planned for a girl's night," she complained, adding, "Duh!" as an afterthought.

I froze, partially confused as well. Yeah, I would have jumped at the chance to have them over, but now... the idea slipped my mind, for obvious reasons I believe. But even if the Akatsuki were there, I still would have told them if my parents were leaving, because, well, I told them almost everything – almost.

"Uh... can we – can we have it at your house or something?" I suggested instead.

Pappy narrowed her auburn eyes at me but Charlie didn't seem to notice before she whipped out a response. "Blah, Fifi! The entire point of this is that your parent's are gone and we can have it at your house! We can always have it at mine and Pap's!"

Oh yeah. Shoot.

Charlie groaned and slapped the back of my head. "How did you survive Maths this morning?"

Gingerly rubbing the spot, I mumbled a slurry, "Dunno." My stomach grumbled and I realised, belatedly, that I hadn't packed any food for today whatsoever; I hadn't for the previous days either, now that I come to think of it.

Pappy motherly stroked my stomach when she heard it growl, an expression of strange sorrow on her face like I had been neglecting my own organ. "Are you hungry?" she whispered – no, not to me.

Charlie was cooing behind her girlfriend, a grin on her face. Honestly, I'll never get used to Charlie acting like this.

"Did you forget your food again, Faye?" the red-head asked softly, matching my eyes. It felt like she was looking straight through me.

Clucking my tongue, I shifted on the ball of my foot as I whined a, "Yeah..."

"Yo, girlies!" Callum yelled in the background. "Stop your gossiping and join us!"

"You're just jealous you can't join in!" Charlie screamed back, and from there, the usual argument erupted between the two C's and the female was stalking towards him already, preparing for a grappling match of some sort.

Paprika slipped her hand into mine – she was half a head shorter than me. "Don't worry. You can have some of mine. I packed too much."


I'd had always done silly things with friends, some of which I regret, most of which I didn't, but sneaking solo towards my house like I was a thief about to break in was just plain weird. I took tiny steps as I hid behind a length of picket fence, and once at the corner, I peered around it and checked out the exterior of my home.

It looked neat, and when I craned my head to see the washing line visible from where I was crouched, the sheets were still there, white and drying in the cool wind.

I swallowed thickly, hunched to my hands and knees, and crawled up to the side of my house, hiding behind the hibernating bush on the edge below the window of the hallway inside. My bag felt heavier bending over, so I felt like I was being crushed by a light-weight rock.

"Damn school," I muttered, peering in through the window. "Damn homework." At the sight of Hidan leaving the spare bedroom, I bit my lip and ducked down, praying he hadn't seen me. My bag pressed against the wall so that I was looking out over the dying front lawn, I muttered, "Damn Akatsuki," once before turning the corner.

The backyard was vacant; three tubs rested up against the side of the house to dry, the peg basket next to the washing line, the soap brushes in a pile at the back door. It was oddly scary looking so peaceful.

I painted myself against the wall next to the first tub, spreading my arms out and flaying my hands against the bricks, but my bag made me stick out from the wall so that I looked like a spider. It was stupid trying to sneak around.

The sound of the back door sliding open made me freeze entirely, and I saw Kisame walk out with a full bucket of water. He tossed it into a flowerbed nearby—aww, thank you for feeding the flowers—before he turned. I swore he should have seen me there, pressed up right against the light colour of the walls, but if he did he didn't even say anything as he re-entered the house with the pail swinging by his thigh.

I exhaled, feeling my limbs shake from keeping them up for so long.

"You know, you can come inside now."

I screamed, shooting from the side of the house and hiding behind the rows of sheets. There, I tried to catch my breath, while also trying to stop my body from shuddering.

Who the heck said that?

Peeking out a little from the side of the sheets, I saw Sasori staring at me with his usual poker face. He looked dead tired; his face was white and there were huge bags under his eyes that were bigger than the ones I had noticed this morning. Leaning over the side of the open window, he resembled the dolls he cherished, but also like he was about to fall asleep right then.

Almost sluggishly, he pointed a finger to the back door and I meekly nodded before racing to it, trying not to blush at how girly I had screamed.

Entering the kitchen, I hadn't even managed to get my bag off my shoulders before I was pushed up against the wall and forced to stare into infuriated pink eyes, backed by the wrinkled angry brow of an ex-immortal. The heel of his hand ground my shoulder into the wall behind me, and a glimmer of joy crossed his face when I whimpered in pain.

"Fucking bitch," he muttered, leaning closer. His nose touched mine, and no matter how intimidated and freaked I was, I couldn't look away from his eyes. I trembled as he towered. "I'm not a fucking housewife!"

His last syllable had barely left his lips before he was slung away and crashed into the cupboards, cursing in pain. I gasped for a breath, keeling over and letting my bag hit the floor like a rock.

"But you would look so pretty in an apron," Kakuzu's deep voice rumbled near me.

"Fuck you, Kakuzu! I'm tired of this shit!"

"You and I, both," was the simple reply.

Kakuzu and Hidan burst into some sort of wrestling match right in front of me. And, well, let's face it, I'm a girl, so of course I'd go red at the sight of Hidan's exposed muscles expanding to push against Kakuzu's, whose own biceps would grow bigger in response. It was like a dream – or a nightmare.

Kisame strolled in casually without a second glance at the two wrestling zombie brothers, had a drink of water, turned to me, and said, "Yo."

My mouth opened and closed like a blubber fish. Kakuzu had managed to shift the fight towards the corner, and Hidan's curses had somehow become a little quieter.

"H-Hi?" I said uncertainly.

"Finally decided to come in, did ya?" he said.

"You saw me?"

He stared at me with his freaky white eyes as if I was an idiot – and I felt like one too. Of course he would have noticed me.

Baring his sharp teeth at me, he chuckled to himself and gestured for me to approach him. "All of us knew you were coming as soon as you reached the lot."

I was unsure about why he'd want me that close to him, but as Hidan had managed to gain the upper hand and switched the position of the arm wrestling to where I was standing, I zoomed over to the giant fish and got there in time for his blue hand to nestle on my head. I 'meeped' in surprise, peering up at the tall man – he was like two heads taller than me.

And then, being that close to his body – which was as hard as a bloody tree trunk – I knew why Konan had been pressing on the purchasing of clothes. Barely a week in their ninja outfit and already the stench of sweat, blood and dirt was soaked into the cloth. I grimaced, but he didn't seem to notice.

"We had to lock a few of the members away when we saw you," Kisame explained gruffly in my ear. The touch of his breath made me shiver – and not in a good way. He was way too close for comfort. "A few of them wanted to teach you a lesson."

I tried to look up at him but as I did I was instead met with his blue fingers shading over my eyes. "Huh?"

"Deidara and Hidan were not happy about having been made to do the cleaning, so we had to lock them in your room."

About all I caught of that was the part about them being locked in my room. To this, I was unhappy, and I hoped that when I went to my hovel I wouldn't have all my stuff strewn everywhere,

"Hidan escaped," Kisame said, chuckling. "Clearly."

"Yeah..." I mumbled.

"Kakuzu, you—!"

Hidan's curse was drowned by a yelp of surprise as the older zombie member managed to grab his ear and yank on it hard. The silver-head growled venomously, his head at an odd angle as Kakuzu pulled harder without relenting, his free hand somehow managing to keep Hidan's away.

The immortal suddenly kicked at Kakuzu's legs but the latter twisted Hidan's ear and he yowled, trying to pull away.

"Fucking let go!"

Seeing them fight like this was both amusing but incredibly scary. I hadn't actually seen them fight yet – if you could call this fighting – so witnessing Kakuzu doing a painful ear turn just made me cringe, and I turned away, wishing I hadn't left my bag over there.

As soon as the two partners collapsed to the floor in another match, I glanced at Kisame and said, "I'm going to my room."

"Deidara..." he almost sang.

Oh yeah. I had taken one step before I stopped, Kisame's hand still perched on my head.

"Hidan," Pein said, and the grappling fell away instantly, the silver-head scowling deeply to himself before storming out of the kitchen and somewhere else in the house. I heard a door slam, but that was about it. "Kakuzu, you should leave with Faye now."

And thus the dreaded excursion began.


Felt a little better now that I was dressed in casual, but the punch I received from Deidara as soon as I opened my door left a sore memory that he (and Hidan) were angry with me. He had gotten a scolding afterwards, but he was happy with the fact that my shoulder felt like it had fallen off. To make things worse, it was just plain weird driving (I did have my P's) to the shops with Kakuzu sitting next to me.

He was very interested in the contraption, and was watching me with those green eyes of his very closely. I was beginning to get little self-conscious with his heavy gaze, while before I had been a little glad that something of this world was impressing him. Until he found out how much the car cost. Then I swore he was plotting to sell it.

And then after that, I swerved a little after seeing a cat shoot across the road. He didn't trust cars after then either. I'm just glad it wasn't a black cat.

I was right that he'd get some stares, but it wasn't all bad after we had parked and walked towards the centre. Not many people looked, but a few did say hello and asked how I was. When I said that my 'friend' was sick, they wished him good health and continued on. Kakuzu was a little perplexed by the friendly community, and I wondered what his thoughts would be when he saw the stores.

He admitted, as he gazed around the centre, that there was nothing like this in any town back home; they were markets instead. When I asked him if he was impressed by it, he just mumbled something about it being a large waste of money before he headed towards Coles because of their slogan out the front that mentioned something about lowest prices.

I sighed. Typical.

Shopping with him wasn't as bad as I thought it would be to be honest. He was very efficient, and I had a feeling he would have been much quicker had he not been taking a look at every single foreign thing we passed to decide what to buy. Often he put the cheapest things he could find into the trolley that I had brought along from behind him – because he just waltzed in – but once or twice he asked me what the difference was between two similar looking and priced foods.

I was personally disgusted when he dumped in a chunk of canned food, because I wasn't a fan of it, and so I told him so. The glare I receive made me go silent instantly, while also scaring the shit out a guy who just happened to be standing behind me and looking in my direction at the wrong time.

It was sort of interesting, to be honest. Watching him in Dad's brown jacket, pulling out items, thinking about it, then putting it back... was somehow fun. Oh God. It's the end of the world. Anyway, he dropped a bit of trivia every now and then too.

Itachi had a sweet tooth, but because he was a cheap-ass, Kakuzu skipped out on the sweet section and moved on to the next. Hidan was glucose intolerant, and we had to buy the cheapest glucose-free milk we could find. I honestly never would have picked that of the silver-haired immortal but, well... blackmail. Zetsu ate meat only. Period. Even raw. I suggested the butchers nearby for that.

That was about all the special dietary requirements of the Akatsuki – well, only for two of them, but still. Kakuzu had paused when it came to Sasori, though. The former-puppet had never eaten food in anyone's presence, so the brunette criminal had no idea if Sasori had any sorts of problems. I noted that he seemed to smile as he thought about finding out Sasori's weak spots, which sort of freaked me out. By the time we were done, the trolley was half-full. He was very thorough, often putting back items and calculating the prices mentally.

"This is it," he told me, and I looked at the trolley, then back at him, then back at the trolley.

I had half-expected it to be full, but...

"Okay," I said, and shrugged. Some things in there I did not like, either, but I was glad to note the bread and pasta. "Is – Is this beneath the budget?"

He nodded gruffly. "Lower than half."

My jaw dropped. "Isn't that a bit..." My sentence hung like clothes out to dry when I witnessed the millionth glare he gave me that day. "S'all good."

He paused for a moment, scanning over the stands and shelves around us. "Do you have any problems?" he asked.

I fought the want to roll my eyes. Why couldn't he have asked me that before we started? "Yeah, a few."

I reached in and surfed through the neatly packed trolley, pulling out one or two of things I would not eat because I hated it or was allergic to it.

"I don't eat canned food, it's disgusting. Fresh is the best way to go," I told him, setting it into the elbow and holding it against my side as I held up another item. "And I'm allergic to nuts."

"Allergic?" he asked slowly.

I nodded. "Yeah. Allergic. It depends on how much I have for how bad it can get, and – for that matter..." I searched through to find the peanut butter, "... that's why I don't have some spreads like this around the house."

Kakuzu stared at me and I dropped the cans and packets back into the trolley.

"I'm not lying!" I exclaimed. "It's one of the most common allergies if people are allergic to something."

"Then don't eat them," he firmly said, righting everything properly in the trolley.

"I don't plan to, I'm just saying. If you guys somehow, God forbid, learn how to cook a meal and it entails nuts... Oh nevermind." I gave up trying to explain my thoughts and so I turned and headed for the chips section, an aisle down.

I heard Kakuzu groaning loudly in frustration as he was forced to push the trolley along behind me. He stopped short at the entrance of the aisle, glared at me, and said, "No."

"Oh, come on," I hissed, not sparing him an exasperated look as I searched for a small packet.

"It's a waste of money and it will help you gain weight."

I scoffed. "Yeah, well, weight is the least of my problems, I think."

He growled, sounding incredibly close that I just knew that he was standing directly behind me – also because he was casting a shadow over me.

"It's just one packet," I whined, not turning, my fingers already gripping the edge of a salt & vinegar packet.

He pried my fingers off and said, "If I let you, I have to let the others."

"No, you don't. They don't even have to know," I tried to persuade. "Besides, I'll buy it with my own money."

"No. That money will all be used for us."

"What?" I whirled around, glaring at him and trying not to recede back like a frightened mouse because of his threatening visage. I cleared my throat. "It's only three dollars."

"Three bucks too much. Now, let's leave," he demanded, gripping my wrist so tightly that I winced and pulling me back to the trolley. I was a slave to his menacing glare to go through the check-out and pay for it without another complaint, but I was annoyed.

Even more annoyed when I met a certain someone.

"Yo, Faye!"

I slumped over the trolley bars and sighed so loudly that Kakuzu raised an eyebrow that I couldn't see. Muttering curses under my breath, I straightened and looked over my shoulder to see my ex, Luke, jogging towards me with a huge smile on his face. I nodded in acknowledgement at his friends waiting by a pot plant further back.

One of them was very feminine guy, and I used to have so much fun hanging out with him. He was more feminine than I was, and I knew that he wasn't afraid to flaunt his skills or looks because of it. He was just that confident with his body that I was jealous. His name was Darcy. And the three other blokes in the group were also very respecting towards him, which made me appreciate the friendship they all had even more.

It was just a shame that I didn't hang with them anymore.

"Hi, Luke," I stated monotonously.

He chuckled and hugged me in a loose embrace, one that I didn't return. My skin prickled.

Luke was two years older and a head taller than me. He had dyed straw-blond hair which was often spiked up so that he looked like a porcupine – at his worst; attractive if he bothered to do it properly. Today it seemed he didn't. He also had that buff body that I seemed to like so much.

"How are you going?" he asked.

I shrugged. "Not bad." And I glanced over my shoulder at Kakuzu who had his arms crossed and was standing on the other side of the trolley. Compared to Kakuzu, Luke was dwarfed.

What does that say about me? Moving on...

"That's okay, I suppose. Oh, hey—" he punched my arm in the same spot Deidara had hit me that morning, so I winced very largely, and Luke just had to notice. He stopped mid sentence and frowned at me. "Sorry, did I hurt you?"

I bit my lip. "A little."

He raised an eyebrow and a wicked smile met his lips. "Have you been playing rough with another guy, Faye?"

"No," I mumbled, shying away.

Luke chuckled. "Aww, who is he?" he teased, crouching a little so that he could stare at me in the eyes. I looked away but he grabbed my shoulders and ran a hand from my ear to the back of my neck. "Come on, you can tell me."

"There isn't anyone," I responded with attitude.

He didn't believe me. "Uh huh." And then he paused, his mirth slipping from his eyes and lips. "You're still angry with me aren't you?" I didn't say anything, but I felt tears pricking at my eyes anyway, giving me away. Luke sighed and pulled my into a tighter embrace. "I thought you were stronger than this, Faye."

"I am," I said, voice muffled.

"Then why are you crying?"

Realising where I was I wriggled myself out of his grasp and shook my head vehemently. "It's none of your business."

"Faye, you know I had no choice but to do what I did," Luke attempted to explain, but I had heard him say that so many times – and the exact same story from Darcy, Josh, Brian and Harry. I knew it was the truth, and I believed it, but it still hurt.

I nodded and sniffled as a tear left my eye. "I know."

He didn't look convinced but settled with a quick kiss on my forehead and a pat on my shoulder before waving goodbye to me, jogging back to his friends who looked a little worried. What sucked was that he didn't know what that kiss did me.

I pivoted sharply and ignored Kakuzu who had witnessed the entire thing all way to the car. I started packing things away in the boot when he said to me, "Sane enough to drive?"

My answer was a loud slam of the boot as I closed it.


By the way, please give Luke a chance. I'm trying to convey him as a good guy still, even if he did hurt Faye for some unknown reason that we don't know yet. Please keep reading. :D