The lid heaves and is drawn away, the room beyond just a paler spot in the complete blackness of Orochimaru's stupid wooden box. It smells like blood and shit and old urine, under which there’s the scent of old, old sweat. It’s not a good smell.
A cold touch intrudes and Hidan reaches out and snaps his fingers closed around the hand.
It’s small. Orochimaru’s hands are small right now, since he’s hijacked the body of a prepubescent boy, but this is somehow even smaller -- cooler, certainly, more delicate, and much less swift.
“Hello?” The voice is small and cracked. Feminine.
Hidan blinks but there’s still no light.
There’s something big and metal shoved in his mouth. It’s fine when there’s saliva coating it, but it’s dry now, stuck to his tongue and tickling the back of his throat. It’s fucking maddening, and his mouth is cracked around it. He tugs the hand.
“A-- are you gagged?” She asks, and then: “Give me a second.”
“Fucking hell, that hurts," Hidan croaks when the big metal attachment comes out. He thinks it takes some skin with it but it’s just nice to be able to move his jaw. “Where the hell are we?”
There’s a pause while she tries to think about that, and Hidan already pretty much knows what she’s going to say. “I have no idea," she admits. She asks if he’s tied down.
“Nah." He’s not. They don’t need to tie him down, because they just keep cutting bits off. “But, uh -- have you seen my legs?”
“No.” There’s nothing in her voice. Here, Hidan thinks, is a woman who gives absolutely no fucks. He can get behind that. “There was only the one box brought into this cell.”
Well, fuck. Fuck. Shit. Shitty motherfUCKING --
Hidan continues on in this vein for some time, until the zero-fucks voice tells him he’s been here for a week.
A week. An actual fucking week. Even here he can feel the soft thrumming hum of his god’s voice, but Jashin-sama is starting to feel impatient and Hidan can absolutely tell why. How could he lose a whole week to this? “Fucking Kakuzu,” he hisses, with intense feeling.
“Orochimaru,” she corrects him.
Well, yeah. Him too. But Orochimaru isn’t really someone Hidan knows, except by reputation and report. He sits down to dinner with Kakuzu. Not now, obviously. Now, he’ll kill him. Hidan has an interest in Kakuzu’s immortality, because of course he does, but...
Hidan can think of a couple of holes in Kakuzu’s immortality.
Some of them are big enough to die through.
“--high up did they cut your legs?” the woman is asking. She has a one-track mind, this woman.
“Dunno.” He has more important things to think about right now. A week without sacrifice. The shame of it eats at him. But -- but she's right. A week. His legs. He'll need his legs to catch most sacrifices. It’s smart. It’s sensible.
Okay, it's not an even cut. The pain's actually not that easy to assess, because it radiates from the point of contact, and because his brain's wired to figure that his legs are there even when they're not. Biology, basically. The cut is on a weird angle, and it carves through his pelvis, leaving splintered bones in its wake.
With time and food and sacrifice and prayer they'll grow back... probably. But it'd be easier if he could get them on his own. He's never had to grow back his legs, but the time he lost his fingertips took weeks.
“Goddamn,” he mutters. “They got my guts.”
She's confused, this idiot. He rolls his eyes and grabs her hand and shoves it against his exposed insides. The pressure is painful, sharp, immediate. It sears through his brain and sets his nerves alight.
It steadies him.
The girl's feeling the edges of his wound with light, curious fingers, and there's a moment of horror and a weird throaty noise before she pulls them away.
“Stop whimpering,” he says, feeling annoyed but much calmer. “It'll be fine. I just -- need to find my fucking legs.”
There's a pause, hard and contemplative, and he can hear her swallow. Finally her voice comes out flat: “If I hear anything,” she tells him, “I'll let you know.”
“Great.” It is, actually -- now he knows she won’t flip or freak out on him. “Now piss off,” he adds, “I've gotta pray.”
Hidan prays a lot. He's nervous and he's upset, not so much by being in Orochimaru's care, although Orochimaru is no great host. No, the worst is: he can feel Jashin-sama watching, can feel His judgement pressing down, and Hidan is in a terror at the thought of falling short of Jashin-sama’s expectations.
The eye of his god can be a soothing thing. It can be comforting.
Hidan eats the stupid gruel they keep feeding them. It goes through his digestive system just like it should and since he's missing a chunk of that, he also leaks. The girl, whoever she is -- she says her name's Sakura, but he thinks she’s probably making it up -- seems to be beyond caring about how badly he reeks.
She seems nice enough, though. Which is weird, because Hidan’s not in the habit of finding people nice.
He decides to do her a favour -- not that anybody ever thanks him, no matter how badly they need it -- and explains to her the doctrine of suffering. He tells her that her pain and suffering are bright and beautiful and sacred. That they are powerful.
"I guess," she says. "When everything else is gone, there's still suffering."
It's not the point he's trying to impart, exactly, but it's pretty close by. Adjacent. Neighbourly. Jashin-sama's attention sharpens, sinks into his bones. Hidan pops his spine, grinding parts of himself against the stone with the movement. The pain is so quick and blinding that his breath hitches. It's good. "Your suffering is beautiful," he tells her, trying to hammer it in.
"If that's true," she says, apropos of nothing, some days later, "then yours is, too."
Well, of course it is. He rolls his eyes. But she's right, and he tells her so -- he feels a little like a parent telling a toddler that, yeah, kid, the sky is blue, that is a birdie, wow, you're a fucking genius.
What a weird feeling.
She falls asleep on him and he doesn’t break her face, which is how he knows he likes her way more than he should.
He kind of wonders if she’s cute. She might be. She sounds young, maybe fifteen or sixteen, but, well, whatever. Old enough to be tortured is plenty old enough for other shit. If they get out of here before she dies, that might be worth investigating.
It’s looking like they probably won’t -- Orochimaru is careful with her, way more careful than he is with Hidan, but no mortal lasts forever under these circumstances.
And in the mean time, shame and nausea eat at him and he prays for violence.
He doesn’t expect Itachi. The whole hideout goes up in black fire and acrid ash, and Itachi stares at them like a man possessed, wreathed in smoke with his eyes burning red in the hot light.
Jashin-sama operates in strange and mysterious ways.
It turns out that Sakura’s not cute.
She’s, like, ten.
She corrects him to explain that she’s twelve. That makes it worse. She’s young enough to make it sound like he’s insulted her, assuming she’s two years younger than she is.
Hidan’s assessment that old enough to be tortured is old enough for sex is challenged pretty severely by this discovery. He’s not used to feeling uncomfortable but he does right now.
(Twelve might sound better if he was twelve. He’s nineteen and it doesn’t.)
“You’re a fucking midget,” he tells her, staring uncertainly down at her stupid pink hair. She hadn’t sounded twelve. She’s weak, really struggling to haul half of his body. “How did I not know that?”
“You’re half a person,” she says, immediately and snippily. “So I don’t think you’ve much room to criticise.”
Right. He is half a person. That’s an issue.
Itachi, at least, has been pretty thorough about clearing the place out. Hidan thought that kid’s face looked familiar when Orochimaru showed himself, but he never really picked it as being that much like Itachi’s.
It’s strange, because Orochimaru’s real interested in his own longevity. Hidan thinks that in light of that interest kidnapping Itachi’s kid brother was probably a mistake.
Which is a pity, because Hidan would very much like to have a chat to Orochimaru.
He and Sakura bitch back and forward, and he can tell he’s stressing her out but his mouth is moving almost on automatic. He knows it’d be beyond stupid to go back for his legs now. He’s not a moron, he knows he can’t fight like this. He knows that there might be survivors. He knows that Itachi’s freaky black fire will burn everything in its path for days, which may well include him if he goes back.
He really doesn’t want to grow his legs back.
He’s sure it could take actual years, which would be bad.
“I don’t know,” Sakura snaps at him, riled by his complaining.
Obviously she doesn’t know. Hidan thinks he could fill a book with the things she doesn’t know, and it’s not like he’s much of a writer.
“Do you want me to leave you out here?”
“What? No! I want you to go fucking find my legs!”
The idea that she might live has lit something in her, and Sakura’s clearly too upset and stressed to talk, which is a novelty.
Hidan sighs, and starts listening out for water.
Sakura turns out to be... Well.
She’s a bit of an idiot.
But she’s trying really hard.
This is the best compliment Hidan’s got for her, which is fucking saying something.
Not only is she not a cute more-or-less-adult kunoichi, she’s not cute in the younger and infinitely more comfortable cute-cute way either. She’s injured and scarred -- of course -- but also bony, gawky and graceless with growing, and she has the most hilariously pink hair he’s ever seen on a real, live person. Her roots aren’t even showing, so he’s got to assume she actually has pink hair. That’s actually a thing that happens to real people, which Hidan did not know until now. She’s also got a chin that’s too pointed, eyes too big for her face and a forehead like the broad side of the barn.
She’s actually kind of an ugly duckling.
Hidan hopes for her sake that she grows into it, but he also kind of doubts it.