"Oi, you bastard! Can't we stop for a bit? We've been walking for hours!" Hidan was yelling at the miser ahead of him. They had just finished a mission and were to report back to the base soon. However, the base was considerably far from their current location. Being the man he is, Kakuzu doesn't waste time. Time is money, he would say, and if you waste time, you waste money; so they continued on.
Thick, grey storm clouds rolled in and a crack and boom of thunder and lightning gave the signal to stop for the night. The two stopped in a small clearing in the middle of the forest. The thick trees could offer shelter and a river wasn't too far either; they could catch some fish for a meal. Hidan groaned and started complaining about how he hated camping. As the elder was about to tell him to shut up for hundredth time, the voice of their leader rang through.
Time for a meeting. NOW. Wow, real blunt, isn't he? The two sighed and took a place on two large boulders in the clearing, sadly, in the midst of the shower. Sitting Indian style, the two held a hand sign and met up at the meeting.
With the hood of her dark blue jacket up, Chikusa walked more slowly, savoring the shower. Obaa-chan said she had to be home before dinner but the nine-year-old would take her time. Not that she was a bad kid; it's just that she enjoyed messing around in the forest. Many of the villagers were too cautious that there could be rogues or kidnappers in the forest, but not Chikusa. She stopped when she heard some rustling, seeing a small rabbit sniffing around, just outside where the forest grew thick. The girl's jade eyes sparkled at the adorable creature and slowly walked toward it to see how soft the tan fur was. However, the rabbit hopped off through the bushes.
"Ah, wait! Come back, Usagi-san!" Chikusa hopped over the bushes and ran in whatever direction she thought the rabbit went. After almost twenty minutes of rabbit hunting, she spotted a clearing. She peeked through the dripping branches; two people with dark cloaks with a blood red cloud pattern sat in the middle, looking as if they were praying. Chikusa noticed how the rain was soaking the two to the bone. Feeling the need to help, she hopped into the clearing. Chikusa hummed in thought until she beamed. She gathered some large twigs and tree limbs that were twice her height. She stuck one end of each limb in the soft dirt. She began weaving the twigs to make a makeshift tarp for cover. She smiled at her work. Survival training sure was handy!
She went inside, wanting a closer look at the two strangers. One was young looking but had slicked back silver hair and a weird looking pendant hanging from his neck where the collar of his cloak was open to show his well-built chest. But what caught her eye was the scratch through his headband. A rogue?
She walked around to the other. His face was covered by a dark mask but she could see his dark, mocha skin. He wore a head cover with his head band; again, this person had a scratch though it. Chikusa hummed in thought, not showing the least bit of fear. She looked outside the metal shelter to see a three-bladed red scythe. The sparkle in her eyes was like that of a curious animal. She carefully padded over to the large weapon. It was probably one of theirs, she thought. They wouldn't want it getting wet and rusty so she heaved it up, noting how heavy it was. After some time, she was able to get it inside the shelter.
Chikusa beamed at another thought.
"Maybe I can start a fire and get them some food," She thought out loud, "Travelers, rogue or not, should get a proper meal every now and then." The rain had thankfully lightened up and she knew that the fish were most likely making their way down the river and following the current. She quickly headed out to get everything prepared.
Hidan groaned and cracked his neck. Geez, he hated doing that for so long. And in the middle of a storm too. He felt his cloak to see just how soaked he was and had a look of surprise. Funny, he would've thought he be soaked into next week after a storm like that but found he was drying already. He turned his to Kakuzu only to notice as his partner did the twig and tree limb shelter built over them.
"What the fuck?" The Jashinist stood up from his spot on the boulder, just as confused as the miser.
Kakuzu snapped his head over to the entrance when he heard a humming sound and could smell a fire. He took a quick glance at Hidan and both gave a curt nod. The miser went to the edge of the shelter to see who it was. To his surprise, it wasn't an enemy but a kid. He couldn't really tell if it was a boy or girl. He was guessing girl by pitch of the humming. She had a choppy bob haircut and wore an oversized dark blue hoodie and black shorts and matching shoes. She appeared to be making a fire, humming a subtle tune, unaware of his and his partner's presence. She plucked a fish from the net sitting beside them, placing it mouth first on a twig and planting in the ground, angled over the now crackling fire. The other three followed the first.
The miser stepped out quietly as any ninja could, furrowing his brow in confusion. But Hidan had to go and open his mouth.
"It's just a brat!" He said, non-too quietly, startling the kid to their feet. At first he would expect the kid to scream but she just smiled and bounced over.
"I hope you guys are okay with fish to eat." The kid said and bounced back over to the fire to check on their supposed meal. Had this kid never heard of the phrase, "Don't talk to strangers"? Hidan raised a silver eyebrow and took a seat next to the kid.
"Why the hell are you in the fucking forest making food for fucking strangers, kid?" Hidan asked in his usual string of curses. The kid turned each fish to cook the other side until she replied.
"What's so wrong about helping strangers? Besides, I like you guys." This caught both of them off guard. Had this kid no intuition on people? For one thing, Hidan had a big-ass scythe and Kakuzu was scary enough if you made eye contact with his stern look.
"My name is Mamoi Chikusa by the way." The kid plucked a perfectly cooked fish from the fire and handed it to Hidan who took it out of his own hunger. The miser sighed and sat on the opposite side of Chikusa. He still couldn't process how this kid's brain worked…youth these days. Another fish was plucked from the fire and given to the elder who somewhat hesitantly took it.
"Sooooo," Chikusa brought her knees up to her chest, arms resting on top, "What's you guy's names?" They both paused and stared at Chikusa. Hidan, as shocking as it may be, spoke first.
"I'm Hidan, brat." He took another wolf bite from the poor fish. Chikusa turned to Kakuzu, smiling as if some secret were to be told.
"Kakuzu…" The kid was in awe for some reason. That damned smile just seemed to be permanent. She began telling them about her small village not far from here and about Obaa-chan as well as her inn. At the mention of an inn, Hidan paused.
"An inn?" He seemed to be in thought by this. Chikusa nodded and told them about all the nice people and how yummy the food was.
"…WHY THE FUCK ARE WE OUT HERE IF THERE'S A DAMN INN NEARBY!" The sudden outburst from the priest made the resident birds fly off.
"I thought travelers and rogues were supposed to live off the land." Chikusa pondered. Hidan tore off the last bit and threw the twig in the fire, "I can ask Obaa-chan if you both can stay for the night." She had her palms together, practically glowing at the thought.
"Inns are expensive and we could attract unwanted attention." Kakuzu stated, not even taking a bite from his fish. Not that he didn't like fish, just didn't want to freak the kid out with his stitches. At his statement, Chikusa shook her head.
"Not to worry, 'Kuzu-san," His eye twitched at the nickname while Hidan just smirked, "Obaa-chan's inn is in a town far from any main village and I can pay the overnight fee for you guys." They stared at the brat in disbelief. She would pay for them so they could spend the night? Without any further argument, Hidan stood up and got his scythe.
"Well, let fucking go then!" That only pumped up Chikusa even more so. She put out the fire and led the way on the trail outside the thick forest. As she led them up the path, she jumped over small puddles and kicked small stones. By the time they reached the small village, the clouds had split up to show the growing night and small, shimmering stars. Chikusa pointed to a tall maroon bath house at the edge of the village.
"That's the place, 'Kuzu-san." It was then that it hit him. A while back, their leader had become good friends with an inn owner that promised to shelter any of the members that journeyed through the town. So this kid knew the owner? As many times as he had been to the inn, he had never seen Chikusa at all.
Upon arriving, the three took the back way. Sliding the door open Chikusa called out their arrival.
"Tadaima!" Slipping off her shoes and leaving it by the others, padding inside. Hidan and Kakuzu followed after her as they walked down the halls. She stopped outside a room and slid the rice paper door open and stepped inside. It was then that he heard the familiar voice of the hostess.
"Ah, Chikusa-chan," Her elderly voice called, "Your home a little late. What took you so long? You didn't get lost, did you?" The old woman chuckled.
"Nu-uh, Obaa-chan. I met some travelers in need of shelter for the evening." Upon that, Kakuzu entered the room. The old woman known as Riyuka recognized the miser.
"Ah, Kakuzu-san, so nice to see you again." She cooed. Chikusa was surprised that they already knew each other. Hidan popped in next and Riyuka looked to him, a little surprised.
"Oh, well who is this?" She walked up to Hidan and looked over to the other, "A new member?"
"My new partner, Hidan-"
"I can introduce myself, dammi-" Thwack!
"Ow, what the fu-" Thwack, thwack!
"There will be none of that filthy talk in my inn." Riyuka said, a firm grasp on her cane that she hit Hidan with. The priest grumbled and rubbed his sore head. Chikusa stifled her laughter until Riyuka turned to her.
"Chikusa-chan, have Kata and Kyoko get their rooms ready. And tell Saari to get a meal ready as well." She turned to the albino, "You go with her; I wish to speak with Kakuzu." Hidan sighed and left with the brat.
The old woman sat on the tatami mat flooring, tucking her legs under her. The Akatsuki member followed her example, sitting in front of her.
"Kakuzu," Said miser looked up, "You are probably wondering why Chikusa-chan is here and who she is, yes?" He nodded in reply. The elder sighed.
"Chikusa-chan's mother was a good friend of mine. Before we met, she and Chikusa-chan lived in the Mist village," She paused for moment, "However, over the years, times became hard when an assassin poisoned her and she fell very ill. For her daughter's sake, she came here and wished for me to look after her. She died the very next day," She heaved a breath as if to keep her voice from cracking with emotion, "That was three years ago and yet Chikusa-chan acts as though it never happened. The dear…" A knock was heard and she muttered a simple 'come in'.
"The rooms are ready and the meal is being prepared, Obaa-chan." Chikusa poked her head in, her usual bubbly smile in place with Hidan behind her. Riyuka smiled in return.
"Good, good. Get these two to their rooms now." The younger nodded and started walking down the hall, Hidan and Kakuzu trailing her.