Chapter 2 is up. Review!


Alright, I'll admit it: I've never had more trouble turning on a shower in my entire life.

The damn thing has like five different knobs! I gripe to myself as I fiddle with the showerhead in exasperation. I mean, I could go ask for help, but that's not an option for obvious reasons. I'll be damned if I give Tenshi another excuse to look down her nose at me -as if she needs one.

I do eventually get the shower to an acceptable temperature, but before I step in I take a few paranoia-fueled precautions to make sure the few possessions I carry on me aren't stolen while I'm showering. I wrap the three lighters I have hidden in my bra and combat boots in layers of TP and place it on the side of the tub where they hopefully won't get too wet, throwing the small knives hidden in my boot and on my waistband next to them.

I step into the steaming hot water and begin massaging my hair, watching dirty water trail down my body and into the drain. I grimace at the sight. Wow, I really am filthy, I think, slightly ashamed. Although it wasn't necessary for Tenshi to make that many comments on the subject. I mean, does she really think there are just free showering facilities left and right, available for use to your typical hobo?

I snarl at the wall. Usually other girls my age -on the rare occasions I've had cause to speak to them- can't succeed in truly getting under my skin, but it looks like Tenshi won the gold frickin' star. She acts like she basically owns everyone, and can tell me what to do constantly -I wouldn't have minded telling her my name and taking a bath if she hadn't acted so commanding about it! And she's constantly holding the whole "you're-homeless-and-I'm-not" thing over my head. And she's a bitch! A spoiled, twisted, controlling, cruel, uncaring, sadistic, bitch! "Sharingan her ass and leave her in a ditch", huh? I mean, I guess that would be better than my current situation -at least I'd be free, and not under the same roof as dangerous serial killers and a world-class bitch- but I would've assumed the guy I stupidly hitched a ride with had somehow drugged and raped me. Hell, I could've actually been raped and have had some crazy slit my throat...

Speaking of which...what's with Akuma (I'm pretty sure that's her name, I heard it when Tenshi was making her spirited argument against compassion)? Why did she stand up for me like that? I was less confused about the existence of the Akatsuki. "She's nice"? What the hell goes on in her brain? Tenshi was right on the money there, I have no idea how Akuma came to that conclusion. The nicest thing I'd done was insult her friend rather than her, and only because Akuma was being unreasonably nice to me.

I can't believe I got saved by a chick in a Hello Kitty shirt, I think miserably as I shampoo. I also can't believe Tenshi fell for the "if our friendship means anything at all" line . . .That's the single gayest thing I've ever heard.

At any rate, I have to grudgingly admit that I now owe Akuma. Even if it might've ultimately turned out better for me to have had my memory erased and wake up miles from here, she was still undeniably trusting and sweet to me, when I don't deserve it in the slightest. She assumed the best of me immediately, rather than taking the more popular what I like to call "Tenshi" reaction; shock, disgust, suspicion, and finally blind hatred. I could really respect someone like that . . . that is, on the off chance her kindness is genuine.

In my experience, the people who act nice are just after something. The trick is to take advantage of that phony kindness to its fullest, and then beat it before they try to . . . take what they want in return.

But for all my paranoia, as hard as I try I can't find any kind of ulterior motive for Akuma.

I won't take advantage just yet, I decide, but possibly even more than the Akatsuki, I need to keep my guard up with her. Kind people have a way of crawling their way into my heart and taking up root there, and that won't do. I need to leave the very second I get an opportunity, and if I'm slowed down by being sentimental, it'll only get me screwed over. I travel light. It'll be hard enough to find a window to escape, what with the Akatsuki hanging around.

Speaking of the Akatsuki . . . I start to realize just how far I am behind enemy lines. What the hell? HOW is this real?! I'll be honest, I have fantasized about meeting them, but in reality this is not a good thing -not at all. They're hardened, cold-blooded killers who wouldn't hesitate to kill me with a smile on their faces. It's like something out of a cliché fanfiction. All I can really gather on the situation is that Tenshi, inexplicably, seems to be in charge. I guess if it keeps her and Akuma -and, by association, me- alive, it's a good thing, but I can't believe that the infamous, badass Akatsuki, my former idols (for about a year in the fifth grade) for the simple reason of being seemingly more hardcore than Chuck Norris, are taking orders from a bitchy teenager.

Shit just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

I end up taking a very long shower, for multiple reasons (to spite Tenshi, to savor the feeling of my first shower in two months, to be positive no more blood and sweat and dirt and gunk is on me, but most of all because I have a feeling this might be my best opportunity for a while to think out my game plan) I probably would've stayed in there until the water ran cold, were it not for-

"Hey, Mari!" Akuma's voice chirps out of nowhere. "What kind of clothes do you like?"

"What the fuck!" I practically jump out of my skin. She's not talking through the door!

"Well, you don't seem like the girly type-"

"I'm in the shower you freaking psychopath!"

Akuma giggled -yes, she giggled. "I know that, I just thought you might want some clean clothes . . . your, um, other ones are in the washing machine."

I poke my head out of the shower curtain, keeping it tightly wound around my face, to see her standing half-out the bathroom with the door closed as much as possible. "So, basically, I have no choice in the matter?"

"Nope!"

"Peachy," I respond, retreating back into the shower. "I don't care, as long as it's black, man."

She giggled again. "You sound like Tenshi."

I grit my teeth. "Well, thanks for that glorious news. I do believe I've never been more flattered in my entire life."

"Whatever you say, Mari . . . I'll be right back."

I hear the door close, then bang my head against the wall. Why me?

Ten minutes later I'm in Akuma's bedroom -which is surprisingly plain- cross-legged on the floor in black cargos and a Metallica T-shirt, brushing my hair with a hairbrush Akuma lent me. She's happily chattering away about how she's a huge Akatsuki fan and her room's only this plain because Tenshi made her throw away all her Akatsuki merchandise (and you listened?) and about how nice Tenshi is once you get to know her (I'm sure) and how nice and funny the Akatsuki have turned out to be (this is about when I decide that Akuma has a very skewed definition of "nice") and how Tenshi's real name is Angel (somehow) and how maybe she should give me a nickname in Japanese, too-

"Okay, for one: I hold up a hand, stopping her, "'Mari' already means 'rebellious' in Japanese, so my parents beat you to the punch, man."

"Really? That's so cool!"

I shake my head. "Are you even capable of reacting in a negative way to anything?"

She laughs and sticks her tongue out at me good-naturedly.

"Whatever . . . anyways, look, thanks a lot for sticking up for me-"

"No problem!"

I push on: "-but it really wasn't necessary. I would've been more than happy to forget this whole thing happened and go back to my life," I finish.

"Hmm..." Akuma said thoughtfully. "Don't care!"

If this was an anime, I would've just majorly sweatdropped. Everyone I know is psycho, I complain inwardly.

"Anyways, could you explain what the hell is going on here?"

She gives me an empty-headed look.

"I mean, the friggin Akatsuki is living in your house, man!" I explain exasperatedly.

"Oh, that! Yeah, a while ago when I was staying at Tenshi's house a box of kittens showed up in the yard. Tenshi wanted to take them to the shelter, but I convinced her to keep them."

"Good call," I say sarcastically. "And then they turned into the Akatsuki?"

"Yep. When splashed with hot water, they turn into humans, and when splashed with cold water, back into kittens! To tell you the truth, Tenshi wanted to drown them when she found out."

I nod. "I'da done the same thing, man."

"At any rate, we kept them around," she continues, seemingly ignoring me. "In exchange for providing food, clothes, shelter, entertainment, and for not turning them into kittens and drowning them, Pein lets Tenshi keep the Akatsuki in line. Basically, he told them to listen to Tenshi as if she spoke for him. It works out well for him, since he can work on the jutsu to return home without having to deal with them. He only has to sort out the occasional fight between Deidara and Tenshi, when he pushes her a little too far. It's a nice arrangement."

Well, she's certainly chatty. I think while listening to her ramble on. She's go this bright smile while talking that I would like to think was fake, but it's too damn cheery and she looks way too empty-headed for it not to be genuine. This girl is either dumb as a brick, or too good-natured for her own good. There was the possibility that she was faking it, but I didn't think anyone was that good at acting. Why does Tenshi like her so much?

"I get it. So that's why they listen to that bitch."

"She mostly lets them do what they want, as long as they follow a couple of rules. Tenshi'll give you the rundown when you go see Pein."

"Oh joy. I can't wait." I say sarcastically, although secretly thinking I'd better not smartass Pein . . . he is one scary mafucker.


I waited outside Pein's room, leaning against the wall, arms crossed in front of my chest. I was tired. Dealing with the Akatsuki was bad enough, but now a bitch with a mouth to rival Hidan's and an annoyance factor to rival Deidara's gets adopted by my friend, for god knows what reason. I had to wonder what the hell went on in Akuma's head sometimes. First the Akatsuki, now this.

From the start, I had not liked Mari. It wasn't so much the smell and the dirt, than the look she gave me. An aggressive, hot look, like she had fire burning inside her and she was not afraid to show it. I could tell she possessed an incredible will to live, a perception reinforced by her knives, gun, and the determination that had allowed her to survive on her own for so long. I couldn't help but feel a spark of admiration when we were first glaring at each other, our positions drastically opposite.

But that had vanished when she opened her mouth.

She was just so childish! Like a really foul-mouthed five year old. Granted, she was a little younger than me, but you'd think she'd have some manners or something. 'Eat shit and die' was the first thing this immature brat had said to me, and I was not amused.

She was bratty, hot-headed, foul-mouthed, and got on my nerves. If it was up to me, she'd be lying in a ditch somewhere, out of my sight.

Mari walked out of Akuma's room, wearing one of my favorite shirts. My eyes narrowed.

"Why is she wearing my clothes?"

"Because we're the same size and I like Metallica," she snapped. "Believe me, I'm not too thrilled about it either."

"Well at least you have good taste in music. Now give me my shirt back."

"What the fuck am I supposed to wear then? Oh no, wait, I have a walk-in closet in my bag!" she said sarcastically.

"Wear one of Akuma's."

"She's too frickin small!"

"What makes you think I care?"

"Girls, Pein is ready to see you." Our argument was interrupted by Konan. Now she didn't have time to go and change. Fuck.

"Fine." I snapped. "Keep the shirt." We followed Konan into Akuma's father's office, reconverted to serve as Pein's base of operations.

"Well aren't you just so generous?" she snarled.

"Keep it up and I'll put you outside in the rain."

"What am I, a dog?"

"You're just about as annoying as one."

"You bet your ass I am."

Our conversation was cut short as we entered Pein's study. It was large and imposing, bookshelves filed with antiques lining the walls and the hardwood floor covered by a thick oriental rug. Pein sat behind the glistening mahogany desk, the room's only window behind him, projecting an aura of power over him. He took no notice of our entrance, continuing his work.

I explained the situation to him. He neither nodded, nor spoke, nor gave any sign that he'd heard me. I said nothing about it. Pein was the only one I would never even try to be disrespectful to.

Finally, I finished talking and he raised his head, purple ringed eyes staring right through us.

"Fine. Make sure she does not make any trouble."

Mari frowned indignantly at that, but wisely didn't open her mouth.

"Roger." I said. He turned his gaze to Mari, and I saw her jump and swallow nervously.

"While you are here, there is only one rule. Mine. My word is law. I will tolerate neither disrespect nor disobedience. The punishment for either will be severe. If you in any way endanger our organization, you will be hunted down, tortured, and killed without mercy. I hope you will remember this fact. In my absence, as Konan is frequently occupied with her work, Tenshi acts as my proxy. Her word is law. Obey her as you would me. You are dismissed."

I hightailed out of there, Mari close behind. I think, no matter our differences, there was one thing we could agree on.

Pein is scary as hell.

Mari hurried downstairs, her face a little pale. Maybe Pein drove some sense into her childish brain.

It was about time for lunch now. I had to hurry and make food in time, otherwise the criminals got overly rambunctious. I walked into my kitchen to find the brat, her nose in the fridge, a knife, bread, and peanut butter on the counter. She was cooking. In my kitchen.

"What do you think you're doing?"

She pulled her face out of the fridge, holding a jar of jelly, and shrugged. "Lunch." she said.

"I will make lunch. You're not allowed in here."

"Unless it's gonna be done in the next thirty seconds, I'm not interested," she responded, taking two slices of bread and making her sandwich, completely ignoring me.

"I don't care what you think about it," I snarled. "Get out of my kitchen!"

She stopped long enough to look me in the eye. "I haven't eaten in three days. Piss off, I'm making a sandwich, man."

I was about to yell, when Kisame entered the kitchen.

"Tenshi, is lunch almost . . . Oh no." he stared in shock at the scene. My livid face, and Mari's unconcerned attitude as she continued making her sandwich. He had enough sense to know this was not good.

"Lunch, will be, delayed," I spat.

"Oy, bitch, where's my foo . . . what is she doing in here? Hey, why's she allowed to cook?" It was the other glutton's turn to barge in and complain. I had to get this brat the hell out before Deidara showed up. I could not deal with both of them at the same time!

"No, she's not. Now get the hell out!" My hand itched towards the cutlery drawer. They fled. I turned to Mari.

"Now, I'm going to count to five. If you're still here when I'm finished, rest assured that you will regret it." I opened the drawer.

She gasped dramatically. "Oh, no, you found my secret weakness; it's . . . the number five." she rolled her eyes. "Look, I'm almost done, so chill the fuck out, man."

"One...two..."

Before I finished counting she grabbed her sandwich and left. I sighed in relief, then frowned. She hadn't bothered to clean up. The counter was a mess. I ran out after her to give her an earful, when I damn near had a stroke.

My chair. She was sitting in, my, chair. That was not allowed. No one sits in my chair.

"Out! Out! Get out of my chair! You're not allowed there!" I yelled.

"Alright, now you're just making stuff up," she accused me irritably.

"OUT!"

"You weren't even sitting in it, man!" she complained.

That was it. I'd had it with this brat. I went into my room and grabbed my bokuto. I might have mentioned this before, but even though it wasn't sharp, it could inflict very painful blunt trauma.

I came up to her and swung it with all my strength.

"Holy shit!" she dodged.

"Last chance, brat!" I raised it again.

"Where'd you get a sword from?"

"It's called a bokuto. Get your facts straight! Three, two..."

"Alright, alright! Moving!" she jumped out of the chair. "But only because that's a badass sword."

"While I have your attention, let me tell you the rules I have for this house. One, no violence towards either me or Akuma. If you want to brawl with the others, fine by me." Hopefully she'll end up getting her ass kicked by them, she's just stupid enough to. "That leads us to rule number two, no breaking anything. I expect to be compensated for any broken items, and I don't care how you get the money. Three, no going anywhere near my laptop, kitchen, chair, room. Four, and this applies only to you, no going anywhere outside this house without an escort of at least two other inhabitants of this house, three if one of them is Deidara or Hidan."

"Hey!(hm)"

"I trust you guys about as far as I could throw you, deal with it. Now, that's it for the rules. Follow them and we won't have a problem." I'd deliberately omitted the rule about my aphephobia, because that would just be giving her ammunition. Besides, I doubt she would touch me with a ten foot pole.

"I'm pretty sure we already have a problem..." Mari muttered.

"Hey wait," Deidara just had to open his mouth, didn't he? "What about the rule about not touching you, hm?"

I facepalmed.

"Say what?" Mari asked in confusion.

"I have severe aphephobia," I growled. "Fear of being touched. So basically, stay the hell away from me or you'll be sorry."

Mari's lip curled. "That won't be a problem, I wouldn't touch you with a ten foot pole, man."

My eye twitched slightly at her having stolen the words from my mouth. "Good."

I noticed Deidara's eyes darting back and forth between the two of us, watching our argument with amusement. I gritted my teeth, but decided against saying anything as I really didn't want to hear what he had to say on the subject. Besides, getting into arguments with Deidara was an exercise in insanity that always ended with me getting riled up and chasing him with either my bokuto or a knife, depending on the severity of the fight. But I would be burning his next meal for that.

"Seriously, what is so damn funny, man?" Mari asked obnoxiously.

Goddammit. I wondered what would happened if I decided to chase her with a knife? She might fight back. Couldn't have that, it would make Akuma upset . . .

"It's not often I get to see someone challenge Tenshi, hm," he responded, grinning. Bastard.

Mari raised an eyebrow. "That so?"

"Most people aren't as stupid as you," I told her acidly.

She gasped, raised her fingers to her mouth like she was biting her nails in terror, her eyes laughing at my expense. Why that little . . . Meanwhile Deidara started laughing out loud.

That made me angrier.

I swung my bokuto at him, clipping him on the cheek as he dodged. Whirling around to face Mari, I placed the tip of my sword right between her eyes. The humor in them disappeared.

She glared, and I glared back.

Oh yeah, we had one heck of a problem.


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