Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching the end of this story. The next chapter will already be an epilogue. Thank you everyone for bearing with me through this loooong journey and I hope it was an enjoyable one for you ^-^
Asleep Pein reached out into empty space as the spot next to him in bed had become unoccupied. The warmth was gone, but that didn't wake the boy up before he rolled over onto his stomach and discovered that instead of hitting against another body, he was spread out under the sheets naked alone.
His eyes flew open and he propped himself up on his elbows, glancing around in the room. It looked empty.
"Konan?" he called out and sat up. He stood up and glanced down on the floor where their clothes used to lay; now there were only his. Hurriedly he put on his boxers and went to check the bathroom, only to find it empty.
"Konan?!" he shouted, even though it was obvious he was alone in the hotel room. He pulled on his jeans that had dried off during the night and ran out of the room into the hallway. "KONAN?!" he shouted frantically, hands in fists and ready to punch something. "KONAN?! Goddammit where are you?!" He was cursing as he looked both left and right in the empty hallway. He scraped his red hair back in frustration.
She couldn't have just left.
Except she had.
"Fuck," he cursed and punched the wall. His thoughts were racing and it felt like they were going to be the end of him. He couldn't believe after everything he'd done, after everything they'd been through, she had still just up and left. Even after last night…
He punched the wall again.
WASN'T ANYTHING GOOD ENOUGH FOR THAT CHICK?!
"FUCK," he shouted and kept punching the wall with his fist until his knuckles were bleeding.
I'm going to find you, Konan, he swore with his last punch.
Another door in the hallway was opened and an irate man in his twenties stepped out, dressed only in his underwear.
"You mind keeping it down, pal?" he said belligerently, looking like a bear awoken early from hibernation.
Pein turned around swiftly, glaring at the guy with wild eyes that intimidated the latter a bit. He raised his bleeding fist and took a pugnacious step towards the guy.
"You've got something to say, dolly?" he sneered. The guy took a tentative step back.
"Chillax, dude, some of us are trying to sleep-"
"Fuck you and your sleep!" Pein shouted, flipping the guy off. He turned on his heel and marched back to his room, slamming the door closed after himself with a loud bang. Proceeding forwards, he was about to kick the first thing in his way. which happened to be the night stand, when he noticed the piece of paper on it. He picked it up.
Nagato, it read in beautiful calligraphy, thank you for the best evening and night of my life. Not only that, but thank you for everything. Never will I forget it. I'll cherish it forever. Unfortunately, as faith has had it, our paths aren't meant to stay intertwined. My path is leading me away, while yours, hopefully, will lead you to graduation and towards the wonderful life you deserve.
I just want you to know that I wish the best for you in life. Keep looking and you'll eventually find your soulmate, someone who connects to you on a level no one else can understand, someone definitely better than me. Just try not to look too hard, alright? You'll end up with STD.
I'm sorry I couldn't stay long enough to say goodbye. I just thought that it would be easier this way. I know you'd try to hold me back - don't deny it, I know you - and I couldn't have my departure made any harder than it already is. I'm sorry.
Have a wonderful life. The right one will come along soon enough. I'll always remember you.
I love you.
A car was speeding on the highway. It had crossed the speed limit by a dozen miles, increasing the speed even more the moment another car got in the way. Changing lanes, every new vehicle got passed and the car in the centre of our attention drove on.
The letter lay crumpled up in the passenger seat while the driver was gripping the wheel so hard it could've easily broken. He was gritting his teeth, fierce gaze set directly on the road, and grounded the gas petal at the sight of another car.
Pein knew the letter by heart by now. Or rather the voices in his head did, for they kept repeating the lines to him over and over, driving his patience to its limit. A low growl escaped from his lips.
He already had a comeback for every single word in the letter and was going to make sure those comebacks made it to their rightful receiver.
Thank you for everything…
What exactly had Pein done? Had he changed anything for her? Made anything better in her life? Left an impression? The desire to find that out was almost unbearable.
As faith has had it, our paths aren't meant to stay intertwined…
Who the fuck was Faith and where could he find him to murder that bastard?
My path is leading me away…
...wonderful life you deserve.
The fuck did he deserve? He was the leader of a criminal gang, for fuck's sake! He deserved prison.
...I wish you the best in life.
Obviously not, since she's leaving him.
Keep looking and you'll find your soulmate…
HE HAD ALREADY FOUND HER.
...someone who connects to you on a level no one else can understand…
Konan understood him better than he understood himself.
...someone definitely better than me.
Lies. All lies. There had never been and never would be anyone who could get so close to Pein as Konan had. No one to understand him better. And he was not going to let the single best thing that had ever happened to him go so easily.
Pein grounded the gas pedal once more.
Once at school, Pein headed straight to the girls' dormitory, ignoring everyone's greetings and where-have-you-beens. He grabbed the handle on Konan's dorm room and jerked it down with full force, but the door was locked and didn't open. That, however, did not stop the male from trying again repeatedly, until the rage inside him made him snap and kick the wooden surface with his foot.
"For fuck's sake!"
He rapped the door with his fist until a loud slam against the door from the other side made him pause. He could hear the key being turned in the keyhole and his heart skipped beats as he waited for the door to be opened.
Was Konan really still there?
For a moment he felt light as a feather, replete with hope, but it all died and he was brought down to Earth, heavy as a rock when instead of blue strands he adored, hair of pink color appeared from behind the door, with a very scornful face to accompany it.
There was a second of silence between the two while their eyes connected, before Tayuya burst out, "Bastard, DO YOU KNOW THE FUCKING TIME-"
But Pein didn't have the patience to listen. He cut the girl off abruptly by pushing her aside and barging into the room, scanning the room for signs of his lost girl. But mere seconds in the room were enough to convince him of what he himself deep inside had long ago known.
Konan never did a job halfway. If she started, she would go full way until it was completely done, leaving nothing unnoticed. And it wasn't surprising that when she said she was going to disappear, she would do so without living a single trace of herself behind. Pein should have known that and not gotten his hopes up. After all, disappearing was what the girl specialized in. It wouldn't be surprising - rather it was more than likely that she was getting a new passport done already.
The room on Konan's side was completely clean. The bed sheets had been put away, bookshelves and desk were empty, and Pein was sure should he have opened any drawers, he would find them the same way they had been before she had entered this school also.
Pein could feel his heart sink a couple of miles.
A smack caught him at the back of his head.
"You're the second person to barge in like they fucking owned the place, it isn't even fucking 9AM yet, and you've even less liberty in this room than the last person did. Give me one damn reason why I shouldn't fucking-"
Pein swirled around to face Tayuya and cut her off once more by grabbing her by her shoulders and shaking them slightly. "Tayuya, do - you - know - where she went?!"
Tayuya scoffed and batted his hands away, stepping back. "Like hell I know! What am I, her fucking babysitter?"
Pein scraped his hair back in frustration and looked around again. His eyes felt itchy and head was a mess, thoughts racing and speeding through his mind like on the Olympics, yet none staying around long enough to be of any help.
Tayuya, taken aback a bit by the guy's obvious desperation, softened. She turned her head away awkwardly and muttered, "You could ask that blonde twin of hers. Deidara - or whatever his fucking name was…"
Pein looked at the girl with wide eyes, like she'd just opened his eyes to something new and extraordinary, and sucked in a breath.
He was out of the room in an eyeblink.
Deidara was currently curled up in Sasori's arms in his own bed, still asleep. The numbers on the digital clock on the nightstand had yet to pass 9AM when Pein barged in through the unlocked door. Deidara, still not fully alienated from his quick reflexes, was up in a flash.
"Pein?" he said, confused. "What the hell? Where's the fire?"
Sasori, not so used to waking up at the speed of a gunshot, turned onto his stomach and, hand around the blond's waist, tried to pull him back down, muttering, "No, Dei - too early for blowing things up. Fire after noon, remember?"
"Deidara, do you know where your sister is?" Pein demanded.
The blond raised his eyebrows. "Should I?"
Pein let out a growling sound and scraped a hand across his face. He plopped down on Sasori's empty bed, burying his face in his hands. He did not have a single clue as to what to do anymore.
"Pein, what's wrong?" Deidara asked carefully, getting up from bed. He was dressed in boxers and a T-shirt, fortunately. He went and sat down besides the boy, eyeing him warily.
Pein blew out a breath. His voice was quivering as he spoke, "Konan left."
Deidara couldn't stop a snort. "So? Nothing new."
Pein shook his head and the motion grew violent as Deidara wasn't catching up on the chaos that had broken aloose in Pein's head. His nails dug into his skin and he kept shaking his head, repeating, "No, no, NO."
"What?!" Deidara demanded.
Sasori had gotten up too and was now sitting up, observing the other two vigilantly.
"What's going on?" he asked in a nonchalant tone of voice.
Deidara shrugged at him and directed his gaze back at Pein, waiting for him to enlighten them on the subject.
"Konan didn't just leave," Pein started with slight tremble. "She left for good. Even cleaned up her damn room. Nothing's left."
"Why would she do that?" Sasori inquired, while Deidara remained in silent thought. "Do you have any idea?" the redhead asked Pein.
Pein did a vague shaking motion with his head.
"Did she call or something to tell you?" Sasori inquired further.
Pein continuously shook his head. "Left a note."
"Is there anything you're forgetting to tell us?" Deidara asked with a hint of sharpness to his tone. He observed Pein closely.
"What do you mean, Dei?" Sasori asked.
Deidara's eyes remained on Pein who now seemed affected by discomfort and was avoiding the others' gazes.
"Konan wouldn't have left, hadn't she sensed danger. Hence, she's taken up her old shenanigans again," Deidara explained. "I haven't talked to her in a while. By the amount of time you two have been spending together and the fact that you were the only one she informed, I presume you know something we don't."
Sasori's eyebrows rose as he eyes his friend with moderate suspicion. He would have never doubted the latter of keeping secrets from him. However, he sensed how great of an effect Konan had left on the guy, after all he'd experienced something similar himself a while ago, that he wasn't so doubtless anymore. Besides, Deidara did make an excellent point.
Pein shifted on the bed uncomfortably. Reluctance to share the secret was now stronger than ever for he had little idea how the others would take it and whether they'd see it as betrayal, since he hadn't informed them sooner. He knew, though, that he did not possess much of a choice anymore and he'd have to leave himself to the others' judgement.
"Konan - killed a guy," he blurted out.
"What?!" Sasori exclaimed, losing his usual composure. Deidara's facial muscles had tensed, but he chose waiting for explanation over saying anything. He stood up and walked over to Sasori, who seemed to have taken the news worse than he had. He put a hand on his shoulder and sat down besides the redhead, eyes not leaving Pein.
The blond's touch was soothing. Sasori blew out a breath and asked in a calmer tone of voice. "Who?"
Pein shook his head. "I don't know," he said. "She did it in self-defense. The guy was chasing after him, but I don't know what happened between them." He finished with a sigh. Despite the extremeness of the situation, none of it actually felt off for Pein anymore. Maybe he'd just gotten used to the though. Maybe it was more than that. Truth was that all this was just - so - Konan.
"There's more to it, isn't there?" Deidara interrupted the momentary silence.
Pein nodded in defeat. "Whoever he was, he was friends with some people from Konan's past," he said, remembering clearly Konan's face when he had described the guys that had attacked him and how she mentioned, how much they had changed… "But that past had to be years ago. A long time ago."
Deidara had tensed more and his hand dropped from Sasori's shoulder, but both of the other guys were too absorbed in the story to notice.
"The guys that attacked me," he said, caressing the bruise below his eye, "they were the ones. Apparently, since the Akatsuki is the only known independent gang around here, they've assumed that we are behind it all."
"And all that - you're just telling us NOW?!" Sasori shouted angrily and stood up, but Deidara's soothing hand replaced on his shoulder stopped him from lunging forward.
"Calm down, Sasori," the blond said, most uncharacteristically to himself. "He was protecting her. You know you would've done the same for me."
Sasori gave him a pained look. The bitter taste of betrayal had filled his mouth, but he couldn't argue against him. Of course he would have betrayed anyone for Deidara, even Pein, his closest friend. That didn't make it any easier to bear, though.
Finally, he sat down again.
"That's not all, is it?" Deidara said to Pein. "Konan wouldn't leave it like that."
Pein shook his head. "She met up with some boss guy and played a round of russian roulette with him. The guy got shot. I heard him being referred to as Ibizo."
Pein looked up from the floor for the first time in a while. "You know him, don't you, Deidara?"
Deidara averted his eyes in silence. His reluctance to speak on the subject was obvious. He didn't say anything.
Pein added in a hesitant voice, "I think he was connected to the kidnap."
Deidara's face paled in a flash and he snapped his head towards the guy with an expression of pure terror. The word 'kidnap' caught Sasori's attention, too, and his eyes shifted back and forth between the two, waiting for an explanation.
"Kidnap? What kidnap?"
"I don't think it's my turn to share the story," Pein said.
Sasori's attention shifted to the blond. "Dei? Have you been keeping something from me, too?" In spite of sounding merely surprised, the blond could sense the real depth of the emotions in the redhead. He shook his head.
"It wasn't my secret. I had little to do with it."
"Do with what?!" Sasori snapped in irritation. "Would somebody tell me or is there a specific reason I'm the only one kept in oblivion here?"
Deidara's eyes had a begging look in them when he looked at the redhead. "No, Sasori - don't be mad-" he pleaded.
Sasori was uncompromising. "Then tell - me - what kidnap you're talking about," he demanded.
Deidara saw that he had no choice. He obliged, a pained look in his eyes as he closed them. He exhaled slowly and started, "Konan isn't my sister's birth name. She used to be Yuno. Yuno Lee. Our mother kept her family name after marriage and wanted one of the kids to inherit her family name. I've always been an Iwaga, she only changed her name to it after her real name began drawing too much attention.
"At the age of 11, we were attending a music school in Kyoko when one day, Yuno was kidnapped in broad daylight. That's how it all started. Since I'd been the only witness, I was recruited by a gang that had been waiting for a chance to get back at Ibizo and his men. The man I'd seen kidnap Yuno was named Lauro, Ibizo's right hand.
"After getting Yuno back, we both worked with the gang that had recruited me for a few months until it was time for us to move. She changed her name and dyed her hair - she used to have blonde hair, longer than mine - to create a new image and not have Ibizo's men recognize her."
All three stayed silent for a bit after Deidara had finished.
Sasori was the one to break the silence this time. "So what now?"
Pein shook his head, devastated, and hid his face in his hands again. "I don't know," he muttered. "I don't fucking know."
"I think we have to wait," Deidara said in a certain tone. "There's not much else we can do. Konan is an expert at disappearing. If she said she was going to leave, she's probably on a plane already. I'll be on a watch out, though. She's going to leave traces eventually. News in the underworld travels faster than wildfire. I'll let you know, if I hear anything."
Pein didn't reply. He stayed motionless in the position he was in, face hidden in palms and giving no reaction.
"I'm sorry," Deidara said.
Pein stood up abruptly and left the room. The door closed behind him loudly.
"Do you think he'll get over it?" Deidara asked Sasori quietly.
The redhead bit his lower lip and shook his head wordlessly.
With eyes full of concern, Deidara looked back at the closed door and sighed.
Stay tuned for the epic finale!