Laugh as much as you can breathe and love as long as you can live.

It was fortunate that there was no truth to the old saying of "if looks could kill" outside of petty books; because, had there been, then the ceiling of the bedroom would have been completely incinerated by now. Hidan scrunched his nose up and emitted a scoff. He had stared at the bumpy, plain surface so long that his eyes had started to get dry, prompting him to reach up and rub at them. This had become a routine, now. Every night, Hidan sat up and stared into nothing with the hope that as long as he kept his eyes open then he wouldn't fall asleep. Every night, that plan also failed, and the same thing ensued.

Nightmares. The same nightmare that had plagued Hidan ever since he was a kid. The cold tendrils of memory that sank deep into Hidan's subconscious nearly every time he closed his eyes. Even getting a night or two without dreaming was a victory. When the memory was still new, Hidan used to have flashes of the nightmares paint his vision when he closed his eyes; as if the damned thing didn't haunt his slumber enough. Hidan was someone who preferred to stay busy, always on the move and preoccupying his mind with something. Whether it was physical or vocal, as long as he had something to think about then he was happy. Why would any jackass choose to let his mind wander off?

A groan tumbled past Hidan's lips and he reached up again, covering his face with his hands. Perhaps that was part of the reason he and his partner clashed. Kakuzu was a man of few words but many nerves to pull, and Hidan seemed to find every single one of them. Admittedly, Hidan got a kick from getting a rise out of the old man. That was about the only entertainment around this shithole, when Hidan wasn't out and about raising hell elsewhere.

Behind his hands, Hidan let his eyelids slip closed when they became too heavy to hold open. Behind them, faint images faded in and out of clarity; he wasn't quite out of it enough to sink fully into his subconscious, but just enough for the terrors that lurked in his mind's eye to taunt him. The taste of iron rose up Hidan's throat. His stomached lurched in disgust, a sensation that had become all too familiar.

A sudden hand on Hidan's shoulder snapped him out of the panic he had nearly lapsed into. His body jolted upward with a strained gasp. While Hidan struggled to find purchase in reality, a part of him still remained in a world that no longer existed. When he looked up, Hidan wasn't sure if he should be grateful to see the cause of his awakening. "What is it, asshole?" The teenager mumbled under his breath, dragging the heel of his palm against one of his irritated eyes.

Kakuzu could have easily asked the same question. When he had entered the room, Hidan had looked like he was in a trance. Even when Kakuzu had said his name, the boy hadn't responded, and Hidan always responded whether someone had wanted him to or not. Kakuzu retracted his hand. "I'm not going to have you zoning out tomorrow during our mission. Are you sure you can handle it?" Kakuzu trailed off after the question, his mismatched eyes having caught sight of the way Hidan's eyes were reddened and raw. He furrowed his brow, but he didn't comment on it. His previous question pertained well enough.

Hidan sniffed indignantly. Trust Kakuzu to only give a shit about this stupid mission. Why Hidan even accompanied the older man on these personal jobs was beyond him. "I'm fucking fine, alright? I can handle a few stupid jackasses out in this dust-land." Hidan crossed his arms and turned his glare to the ground beside the bed, searching for a distraction in the wooden floorboards.

Kakuzu narrowed his eyes. As accustomed to Hidan's antics and often volatile moods, there was something off about the teenager tonight. Suspicion stirred, but Kakuzu wasn't one to pry into another's business. Partner or otherwise, Hidan would be likely to just lash out. Instead, Kakuzu chose to leave Hidan be. If any problems arose, Kakuzu would deal with them swiftly. In the months Kakuzu had known Hidan, he'd become confident that the younger man was capable of handling his own crosses.

Hidan's gaze cut to the side when he felt a strong hand pat his shoulder, but he didn't move until Kakuzu had gotten into his own bed. In the darkness of the bedroom, Hidan listened until Kakuzu's breathing had evened out, and even then he continued to focus on the steady sound late into the night. All too soon, the familiar heaviness returned to his eyelids. Hidan had fought many foes in his eighteen years; those bigger, stronger and more experienced. But, he had never been able to fight sleep.

His head fell backwards onto the pillow, and just as his eyes had fluttered shut, the monsters came skulking out of the depths.

In the few seconds between being uncertain of consciousness or unconsciousness, Hidan felt a chill against his clammy skin. Panic began to crawl up his throat, but before his body could send a signal to the brain that he needed to get the hell out of here, a voice came crashing through the former peace of sleep.

"You stupid, ungrateful brat!" A heel dug into Hidan's side, nailing him in the ribs and kicking him over onto his back. He had taken hits far worse than that, but it was still certain to leave a bruise. Bruises always looked so terrible on his skin. He was so pale, bruises always looked like patches of dying skin. The other kids called him a zombie.

Hidan struggled to open his eyes, to move, to do something other than just sitting there like a fish in a shark frenzy. The same foot stomped down onto his abdomen, causing him to wretch in pain. Had anything been in his stomach he was sure he would have thrown it up. Wet eyes opened to stare, bleary, at the man above him. A smile full of jagged teeth bared. "You little bitch, you're always fuckin' crying. What did I say about fuckin' crying in my house?!" The man's voice rose with every word, until Hidan could hear nothing but that awful screaming echoing in his eardrums.

"You are a worthless, pathetic excuse of a man! I should have cast you out when you were born! You're lucky I let your fuckin' mother have you!" The man's greasy, brown hair fell into his eyes, giving him an unkempt and almost quite rabid appearance. He reached down to grab a handful of Hidan's hair and yanked the child up off of the floor, only to use all of the force he could muster to throw him backwards into the brick fireplace. A cry tore out from Hidan's lungs as the brick dug into his skin, cutting him open in some places. Pieces of it chipped off and dusted the floor, mixing with fresh and old blood.

With the wind knocked from him, Hidan collapsed limply on his knees, fighting back the lump welling in his throat. He would swallow back any crying, screaming or pleading that wanted to come from him. Hidan had done enough of that, he had seen his mother do enough of that. It never worked. Hidan looked up at the monstrous cause for all of this when the sound of boots crunching on debris thumped towards him.

"Father, wait–" Hidan had barely gotten the words out of his mouth as he was approached. The heavy boot connected with his chest and the man used his weight to shove against Hidan's own weight, pushing the boy closer to the licking flames still alive in the fireplace. Pain erupted across Hidan's back as the fire hungrily reached out for his skin and burned several stripes across his back.

"You think you're in hell now, boy? Hell has fire. Hell has much worse than you've ever seen!" Hidan's father spat in his face before he removed his foot, allowing Hidan to fall forward and brace his weight on the palms of his hands. He could do nothing but remain there, shaking and willing the agony eating away at him to go away. With every breath, Hidan could feel that he had a broken rib or two, his skin was lacerated and torn open in several places and the fire still lingered on his back even when its touch was no longer there. He never asked for this, he never asked for all of this to happen to him. Nothing had ever been on his own terms for as long as he had lived under his father's iron fist and boiling hatred. This pain was never going to cease.

In the moments Hidan had spent struggling to hold onto consciousness, a fist cracked across his face. Blood burst in his mouth and the sound of his nose breaking reached his ears long before an anguished cry did. It took several seconds for him to realize the scream hadn't come from him. Distantly, he heard someone crying. After he pried his eyes open he stared down at the growing pool of blood beneath his face. Forcefully, he raised his gaze up to look at the source of the crying. A woman sat in a heap in the entryway of the living room. Her white hair had fallen out of its braid and become a tangled mess. In her dress there were several tears and rips. Despite this, she was still the most beautiful person Hidan had ever seen in his life, and she always would be.

"Stop your sniveling you useless whore!" Hidan's father snapped, turning his drunken, furious gaze onto his wife. She stood up on shaky legs and stumbled forward, hands outreached for Hidan. Pleas and bargains spilled from her mouth like molten gold. As greedy as man is for riches, his selfishness kills those around him.

Hidan reached up for her as he watched her approach him, blood dripping from her split lip. He smiled when his fingertips touched hers. Her lips began to curve into a smile of her own, but her expression froze into a half-smile that was more reminiscent of a grimace. Blood splattered down onto Hidan's face from her mouth. Petrified, he could do nothing but stare into her eyes, but soon he had to look down. It was impossible to ignore the silver blade that now protruded out of her chest in a gruesome display of blood and torn flesh.

Hidan fell back as his mother fell forward. She hit the ground with the force of a bag of rocks. She sucked a wet breath into her lungs, making a sick gurgling sound. They were filling with blood. Hidan wasn't stupid. He knew she was dying. Even when he darted forward and placed his hands on her shoulders, begging her not to go anywhere, he still knew that she was dying. Even when she was the only thing he had left, she was still dying. Nothing could stop death. Not the pleas of a broken child, not the love of a mother for her baby, and certainly not prayers to a cross above the mantle. That god didn't exist. Hidan had wasted enough breath to see that.

Cold hands brushed against Hidan's blood and tear stained cheek. In a weak voice, the woman hushed him. She whispered words of love, but Hidan could do nothing except watch as the light faded from her eyes. Her words burrowed deep into his heart, where he still heard them murmur with every beat. His blood and his own mother's blood clung to his skin, but the child could barely feel it past the numbing pain that had begun to creep through his veins.

"Get over here, boy. She's fuckin' dead, just like you should be. You're only good for the same shit she was!" Hidan shrieked a protest when he felt a calloused hand close around his neck and tear him away. The wall met his back with a thundering collision, pinned there by his father's hand pressing into his windpipe. Tears dripped down Hidan's cheek, creating pink streams where the droplets washed away blood. A cold glint flipped on in his father's eyes. Hidan could only recount ever seeing the animalistic expression once.

On a wolf, right before it pounced on a deer.

Hidan's mouth opened to spit a slew of curses at his father, to scream and damn and bring down the wrath of the entire fucking sky. His lips had only just parted before a mouth crushed onto his, tasting strongly of bloody alcohol. Bile rose up Hidan's throat. His hands slammed against his father's shoulder, struggling to shove him off, but the older man was much too big. No amount of beating against his chest was going to deter him. Hidan's stomach dropped through the floor when he felt nails clawing at his clothes, ripping the fragile cloth away to expose traumatized skin.

This was wrong. This was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Hidan felt a cold hand grab at his thigh, bruising it and forcing it apart from the other. The boy screamed into the kiss, but it didn't do any good for him. The sound had been muffled by the kiss. Hidan's father took advantage of it, the scream having allowed him to shove his tongue down Hidan's throat. Disgust boiled in Hidan's body; it spread through his veins and left an acidic taste on his tongue. It was the kind of taste alcohol could never replace.

Fed up with Hidan's uncooperativeness, the old man slammed his son's head backwards against the wall and stepped away to let him fall onto the ground. He stood over the young teenager's prone form while Hidan frantically tried to grasp onto reality again, to gain enough sense to run or put up some sort of fight. He couldn't just make this so easy, he couldn't just let this happen.

A rough hand buried itself into Hidan's hair, keeping him shoved face-first into the ground. A scream choked Hidan when he felt his father's hand between his legs, on his back and on his chest. The sick fuck was getting off on the struggle, on the screaming. When he began to spread Hidan's legs apart, the boy slammed his eyes shut. Just go somewhere else. Just go somewhere else. Just go somewhere else.

His father leaned over his ear, shifting his hips into Hidan's.

"There's nowhere to run to."

Hidan was screaming before he even knew he was awake. His arms thrashed about, throwing the blanket off of him and clawing at unseen demons that were retreating back into their hovels. Panic was filling his lungs, and soon he found almost no room for air.

Kakuzu woke up to the sound of his partner's voice careening off the walls. He sat up immediately to scan the room for what the cause of the commotion may be, but he found nothing except the moonlight and blankets scattering the floor. He turned his eyes onto Hidan, half-ready to throw the entire bed out of the window with the teenager still sitting in it. The only thing that stopped him was the obvious shine of wetness on Hidan's face.

Kakuzu had never seen Hidan cry. Not in the entirety of knowing the kid since he was seventeen. The only weakness Hidan had ever shown was when his rituals slowed his body down. Irate and more than a little confused, Kakuzu moved to stand up and approach Hidan's bed. The boy showed no signs of even noticing Kakuzu had moved. His hands clutched at the sides of his head and his eyes were glassy. They looked focused on something in front of him that Kakuzu could not see. With as much gentleness as a man wrought with iron could muster, Kakuzu rested a hand on Hidan's shoulder. "Hidan? Hidan, look at me."

Hidan's muscles tensed beneath Kakuzu's fingertips. At least he was somewhat aware of his surroundings. Gradually, Hidan's eyes focused on the blurry form sitting on the edge of his bed.

"'Kuzu?" He mumbled, barely forming Kakuzu's name. Kakuzu let it slide for once. "I… Did I wake you up?" Hidan hadn't even seemed to notice the tears that have only just started to slow down. "Sorry."

Kakuzu was resentful of the concern that this brought out of him. Hidan had almost never apologized for anything, and fear had never been on the kid's agenda. He had always crowed that Jashin was going to keep him safe from any strife. "Hidan, snap out of it. You're barely here. What's the matter?" Kakuzu's voice was an anchor; cold and steady in a sea that was roiling inside of Hidan's stomach.

Hidan looked up at Kakuzu's eyes. They seemed to faintly glow in the dimness. A lump welled up in his throat and fresh tears began to shine in his eyes. Kakuzu started to exasperatedly repeat his question, but Hidan interrupted that before it ever came to action. The teenager threw his arms around Kakuzu's shoulders and buried his face against a warm neck, tremors wracking his body. It was a surprise Hidan doesn't shake himself apart.

Kakuzu was slow to move at first, but there wasn't much else he could do. He doubted Hidan was even fully self-aware, now. One hand rested against the back of Hidan's neck, where his hair barely touched. Fresh tears dampened the older man's skin where Hidan was hiding his face. His fingers were clutching to Kakuzu with a desperation of someone lost, struggling to hold onto his last shred of survival. Kakuzu let the attack subside first, giving Hidan the time he needed to find his breath and himself.

By the time he had, Hidan had fallen still and his breathing was no longer catching on every inhale. There was no tactful way to address this. Kakuzu could only say what he needed to. "Hidan, tell me what's wrong." Kakuzu had seen countless horrors in his long years; had experienced things most humans would shatter under. Still, perhaps he can't prepare for what had reduced Hidan to such a mess.

Hidan mumbled something that Kakuzu couldn't make sense of, he had only caught a single vague word. "Nightmare."

Nightmare. Kakuzu closed his eyes. How little he truly knew of Hidan rang in his ears, now. Calmly, he pulled Hidan away a little so that they could face one another. Hidan looked so young. Kakuzu found himself struck by that realization. Hidan was still just eighteen. He was still just a kid. "Hidan, there's nothing here. Nothing is going to happen to you, here." Kakuzu was a matter-of-fact and blunt man, someone Hidan had never known to lie.

"People like to say that bullshit a lot." Hidan grumbled, his brow furrowing in frustration. Kakuzu, to his credit, managed to withhold a sigh. This wasn't his forte, and he doubted his capability for handling this in any manner possible of being helpful.

"Hidan, there's a lot you don't understand. You have things you haven't learned, yet. You're hiding behind old scars." Kakuzu's voice was drowsy but firm, just like the hands holding Hidan's shoulders to keep him steady. "It takes time. Sometimes, it takes a great amount of time. Don't lock yourself away from change because of fear. You don't learn how to live, that way. You only learn how to survive."

Hidan had refused to meet Kakuzu's gaze the entire time, but it was apparent he was hanging on to every word. Kakuzu let out a quiet sigh this time and leaned forward, wiping the tears off of Hidan's face. "Try to get some sleep. You're going to need it. Nothing is going to come after you." With that, Kakuzu got off of Hidan's bed to return to his own. As an afterthought, he reached down to turn the lamp on its low setting. It provided a soft light, but it made all the difference in the dark room.

Hidan stared at the lamp for a few minutes, blinking dully. Kakuzu tossed the blanket over Hidan and went to lay in his own bed, hopeful they could both fall back asleep. Hidan yanked the blanket off of his head and let it drape around his shoulders. A part of him was immensely grateful Kakuzu wasn't the type to ask questions. There's another, perhaps slightly older part of him that thinks that maybe someday Kakuzu would come to understand tonight. Until then, Hidan would just lie down. There's a warm sleepiness in place of the usual cold exhaustion.


"What is it, Hidan?"


A quiet hum answered Hidan. The teenager turned onto his side and rested his cheek against his pillow, exhaustion weighing heavily on his eyelids. He glanced up one more time towards Kakuzu, who had his back turned to Hidan. He'd always slept closest to the door.

Hidan smiled.

This story is the first among the ones I have rewritten. I debated deleting it, but a part of me felt it could be salvaged if I took it apart and redid it. All things considered, I liked the plot I had originally thought of for it. Rewriting it really took me back to my old KakuHida roots too, this was the first pairing I ever wrote and my first OTP. I really don't even read or look at this pairing anymore, but it will always have a place in my heart. I did end up leaving this open for interpretation on whether people wanted to see it as romantic or platonic this time. I didn't quite like explicit romance for this like I had done originally. It felt out of place.