"Hidan," Kakuzu said. He looked down at his old companion, bewildered and disoriented still over that fact that he was alive. He had died many times, but the last time had felt more final than any previous demise. Yet he stood, with a slow beating heart in his chest. It only took him a second to realize that the heart in his ribcage, beating inside of him for the first time in decades, was his original heart. Times had come when he had forgotten about it entirely, yet it felt familiar inside of him now, in a way no other heart had done.

"Kakuzu..." Hidan had been crying, Kakuzu noted. He had always assumed that grief was a feeling unknown to Hidan, whose arrogance and recklessness blinded him from all else. The reddened eyes told of a different story.

They were in a forest, still in the Land of Fire, and to his right, Kakuzu saw the ruins of Konoha, and to his left, only more unending forest. On the ground between him and Hidan he saw the corpse of a butchered shinobi of the leaf, whose blood stained Hidan's attire.

Hidan looked different than last time, Kakuzu could tell. Skinnier, dirtier, and without his scythe or any mark of Jashin. From the open kimono, Kakuzu saw that he had recently been stabbed through his chest, but he could see no marks on his body to match the torture of the corpse on the ground. Hidan had killed that one without saving any of the pain for himself, and without his ritual.

Before Kakuzu's haltered reflexes could prepare him for it, he found himself in Hidan's embrace. The shorter man's arms were tight around him in an uncharacteristic hug, but while Kakuzu felt no desire to return it, he lacked a will to push Hidan away.

The embrace came to an end and Hidan wiped his face with his arm, before grinning at Kakuzu, with the most innocent expression he had ever seen on Hidan's face.

"Fuck it's good to see you," Hidan announced. "You have no idea what I've been through, seriously, while you were just lying in a fucking morgue. I think I deserve some recognition. Come on."

Hidan had accompanied Kakuzu's heart, he reasoned. How that had happened, he didn't know yet, but it seemed to be the only explanation. Then Hidan had stolen his body from the morgue, and brought it here. But there was one thing which Kakuzu could not understand, as he puzzled every piece together.

"Why were you crying?"

"Ah, you saw that?" Hidan laughed in embarrassment. "Well I got a fucking kunai in the eye, and that's why I killed that son of a bitch, okay?" Hidan was a terrible liar, if allowed to speak, so Kakuzu let him prattle on. "It's not like that guy fucking stabbed your monster buddy right when I got to reunite you, and I forgot that he would've had to destroy the mask to kill it, or something stupid like that. Seriously, how dumb do you think I am?"

"You cried because you thought I was dead," Kakuzu stated. He expected a violent reaction, but instead, Hidan's gaze drifted to the ground.

"What the fucking ever," he said. "You're alive, so all's good, except you still haven't fucking thanked me."

"You didn't do your ritual," Kakuzu said. That took Hidan of surprise, and he looked at Kakuzu with a lost expression.

"I... oh fuck, I didn't! Jashin-sama's going to be fucking pissed! And it's all because of you, damn it, you fucking heathen." Yet there was no true passion to his words, and Kakuzu was well able to read between the lines.

Had he been a man to be flattered, he would have felt something akin to that at the notion that Hidan had tried to save him so feverishly that he had forgotten about his god. It seemed somewhat significant, taking Hidan's persona into account.

"Thank you." It was a word Kakuzu hadn't used in its proper form for even longer than when he parted with his original heart, yet it was the only word he could use at that time. He detested death, and being given his life back was a thing he could only feel gratitude towards. Even though it was Hidan he was thanking.

They locked eyes, Hidan's widened in shock, and time seemed to be stop. The winds of the forest were calm and quiet, and the animals seemed just as still.

"Yeah, well, it was your freaky little heart monster which saved me first," Hidan blurted out. "So there's no need to get sentimental and polite with me, fuck's sake. You can be such a softy, you know that? Deep inside."

"Thank you," Kakuzu repeated sincerely, countering Hidan's failed attempt to get a rise out of him with a raised eyebrow.

Hidan fell quiet, and he nodded, accepting the gratitude as if though he had never experienced it before. Without protest, he followed Kakuzu's order, when he said "Now let's go."

Together once more the immortal due left the Land of Fire. The memories of tears, the experience of a temporary death, and the triviality of demise, they left behind.

Thank you so much for reading.