Flickering candlelight illuminated the stains on the wooden floor of the room, caused by questionable liquids spilled onto and soaked into the dark planks. The wooden beams of the roof had been eaten away by Sulphur fumes, the hinges corroded by acid etching its way through the metal. They spoke of decades of alchemy practiced in this laboratory.
The walls were lined with bookshelf upon bookshelf, each filled to the brim with the most exotic ingredients. Bowls holding toad skin, wolf claws and fox teeth stood beside adorned glass vials and embellished flacons that glowed softly in the dimly lit room. Emerald tinctures in jars and phials were carefully placed next to an array of ashes in various colors and textures; peacock livers, salamander hearts and snake eyes swam in pots partially obscured by bundles of dried herbs.
Among bottles filled with fluids in ruby, lavender and honey were cups overflowing with lion hair and raven bones. Amethysts and sapphires piled up beside a carafe holding an elixir to dark it swallowed the light around it and flakes of gold in a shallow bowl were glinting tantalizingly in the flickering shine of candles scattered among the room.
A cauldron was quietly simmering next to a stack of indigo stones and scarlet crystals although no source of heat was in its reach. Twitching periodically, but only out of the corner of one’s eye, lay vessels stuffed with questionable powders and dubious solutions in burgundy flasks seemed to shift every so often.
Amidst all these objects, hunched over a table, Kakuzu poured a purple liquid that glinted in the candlelight like it contained all the stars of the universe into a mortar. Upon contact with the powder inside of it, the liquid exploded into a blast of smoke and force, knocking Kakuzu to the ground.
With laborious breath and movements, he rose back to his feet and consulted the book lying beside the mortar.
A frustrated shout echoed in the laboratory as Kakuzu snapped it shut and threw it against a bookshelf across the room. A cascade of books and caskets came crashing down, pooling on the floor like spilled ink. One fell on a crate beside the shelf and it rattled slightly as a faint growl emerged, but Kakuzu paid it no mind.
Instead, his gaze was fixed on a heavy, leather-bound book that had clattered to the ground, pages spilling open. The letters scribbled on the parchment were brown, not black, and reeked of death.
Was he really that desperate?
Kakuzu took three slow, but deliberate steps towards the book and picked it up, eyes scanning the instruction written on the page. It seemed easy enough.
The ornamented dagger lay heavy in his hand as he cut his palm open. Immediately, blood coated his fingers and he used it to paint a circle on the wooden floor. Only three more strokes remained, yet Kakuzu hesitated.
He glanced to the various hearts swimming in an embalming fluid in their jars, each looking eerily well-preserved. Alive, even. It was worth the risk, the alchemist decided, and finished the symbol by painting a triangle inside the circle.
A gust of wind rushed through his laboratory, blowing out candles and cloaking the room in darkness.
When the candles flickered back to life, a being that looked like an attractive young man was standing in the middle of the seal. With white hair and magenta eyes, it had the most unnatural of appearances.
“I am Hidan, part of the part that once was everything, part of the darkness which brought forth the light. Destruction is the fabric that weaves my essence. And you, human, you summoned me?” orated the man, no, the thing, unblinking eyes fixed on the tall alchemist in front of it.
Its imitation of a human male came close but was not quite what it was supposed to be. Like a reflection in a convex mirror, its appearance was slightly distorted. The sight was deeply unsettling, yet Kakuzu tried to remain calm, since the creature would be trapped in the seal until their pact was fulfilled.
He straightened and levelled the creature’s gaze. “Midas Touch. I want it.”
“This desire of your's, I can grant it. But I will demand a price, since everything created, in turn deserves to be annihilated.”
“Your soul for Midas Touch,” demanded the man so unlike a human.
“My heart,” Kakuzu bargained.
“It’s all the same to me,” stated the creature and raised its shoulders in the convincing approximation of a man’s shrug. “Your heart, your soul, your liver. You barter it away like it’s yours to keep and nothingness welcomes you with open arms. Yet new fresh blood is always going round.”
“How do we seal the contract?” Kakuzu asked, although, looking at the crimson circle beneath Hidan’s feet, he suspected he already knew the answer.
“Well with blood of course,” Hidan teased with a smile. His canines seemed unnaturally sharp.
The thing that wasn’t a man hurled a scythe that didn’t exist, its blades whistling through the air. Its sharp edge, invisible to Kakuzu’s human eyes, cut through the flesh of his cheek and returned to its master. A tongue that was just a bit too long to be human darted out to lick up the pillaged blood from his fingers, sealing the pact.
Immediately, Kakuzu felt a burning spark rush through his veins. Careful not to abandon himself to hope before he had proof, the alchemist touched the mortar. Mere seconds ago, it was the token of yet another failure – now, its golden surface shone warmly in the light. He forgot to breathe.
“Now – ” Hidan paused, clearly enjoying the moment, “your heart.” He extended his hand in eager anticipation of the debt owed to him, grin gleaming unnaturally bright in the dim light of the room.
Unfazed by the exorbitant cost of the price he promised to pay, Kakuzu slowly walked towards the bookshelf closest to him and picked up a jar. In it, a heart was idly hovering in the clear fluid. It began to move when it was picked up, recognizing its owner.
Kakuzu handed the creature the jar. “Your payment,” he noted, unable to keep the smug tone out of his voice.
Eyes comically wide, Hidan stared at the heart in his hands. It floated up and down, friendly and distinctively alive.
“Nooo,” he clamored. “My payment was your heart! Your soul! The vital depths of your being!”
“I promised you my heart. You’re holding it in your hands. It’s not my fault that you did not realize that I have more than one.”
With an inhumane screech, Hidan smashed the jar to the ground, where it shattered into a million pieces. Trashing and turning in the small chamber, he demolished every book he laid hands on, crushed every phial and broke every box.
“You vile creature! You will burn in hell, you deceiver! You tricked me! Lord Jashin will have your soul and rip you from limb to limb!”
Kakuzu watched on calmly as the creature wreaked havoc in his study. Now that he could transform objects into gold through the mere brush of a finger, even the rarest, most valuable items seemed cheap in comparison.
Shoulders heaving, Hidan came to a rest with his back turned towards him, seemingly satisfied with the destruction he caused. When he turned around, a self-satisfied smile turned his features into those of a handsome man. Instinctively, Kakuzu took a step back.
“There is one small detail you have overlooked,” the thing declared and took a step towards the alchemist.
“And what do you think that is?” Kakuzu asked, unwilling to show another sign of weakness.
“You. You promised me your heart.” One step further.
“And I gave it to you.”
“You gave me your physical heart.” Another step and Hidan was upon him, one hand that looked suddenly very convincingly human spread across Kakuzu’s chest.
“But you still owe me your heart.” The creature smiled triumphantly, magenta eyes flashing red in the flickering light. “And I will not leave until I can call it my own.”
Kakuzu’s heart lurched inside his ribcage as if it was drawn to the hand outside of it and dread settled deep inside his bones. He might not have fully considered the consequences of promising his heart to a creature of the night.