I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it sure as hell wasn't what happened next.
"Oi, what the fuck are you looking at, pink bitch?" one of the Akatsuki members, an albino man in his early to mid-twenties with pink eyes and thick muscles I recognized by the name of Hidan, growled at me.
I felt a vein pop in my forehead. Did that jackass just insult me? And excuse me, but I was not the one staring; I just looked their way.
"What did you say?" I asked in deceptively quiet voice which hid the rising anger I felt bubbling to the surface within me. I could be patient, but there was no way I was just going to stand there and let myself be insulted. Especially by some jerk I didn't even know.
He sneered, crossing his thick arms over his muscular chest, causing his biceps to flex in what he probably thought was an intimidating manner. "What, are you fucking deaf too? I said, 'Oi, what the fuck are you looking at, pink bitch?'"
I narrowed my eyes at him, making a point of giving him all my attention, and slowly raked my gaze from his short, snow-white slicked back hair to his narrowed pink eyes, down to his grimacing thin lips and strong chin. I gave him a once-over, going over his super-broad shoulders which were clad in a simple tight-fitting white t-shirt (which, knowing his persona, he chose to make his muscles stand out even more), to his crossed arms, to his muscular abdomen and strong legs which were dressed in ratty dark grey jeans and black dress shoes which had definitely seen better days. Having reached his feet, I returned my gaze to his face, which was now smug. The jackass probably thought I was checking him out.
Which only made my response all the more satisfying.
I looked at him dead in his confident, self-satisfied eyes, shrugged, and said, "Nothing much, apparently." Then, as if proving my point, I turned away with a bored expression, looking at my cell phone's screen as if it was also boring but far more fascinating than him.
I didn't need to be a genius or look his way to know that Hidan's jaw had come unhinged, before magically hinging itself again to form a tight snarl as his face reddened in what I could only assume was mostly anger with a hint of embarrassment. The laughter of his companions only served to prove me right as I heard a mix of quiet chuckles and some of them go full-out guffaws as if it was the best thing they'd ever seen.
Then again, knowing first-hand what a jackass Hidan was and his poor band mates having to work with him day after day, it probably was.
"She really got you there, Hidan, yeah!" one of his companions, I don't know which since I wasn't looking, who was laughing the loudest managed to say between fits of laughter. I smirked. I knew a little psychology, so I knew that for a man like Hidan getting owned by a girl and having his male companions not only witness it but also rub it in his face was humiliating. Oh yeah, I was good. That'll teach the bastard to insult me again.
Hidan turned his attention at the man, and snapped, "Shut up, you pansy!" but his companion just ignored him and continued to laugh at him. The albino with the potty mouth then turned on me, his eyes blazing in fury. "This is all your goddamned fault, you bitch!"
Huh. I guess he didn't learn. Well, more fun for me. I know how to defend myself while putting bastards like him in their place.
"M-hm," I hummed, not really paying attention to him. I had far more interesting things to do, such as watching the screen-saver on my phone change colors. Hidan got even more outraged.
"Listen here you fucking bitch, don't you know who the hell I am?" he demanded as he stalked towards me, standing inches just beside the armrest of the seat I was lounging on. I didn't bat an eyelash; instead, I placed my elbow on the armrest closest to him and used my hand to rest my cheek on as I kept looking at my phone.
"Nope," I lied, and it was so easy. "And I don't care. Now please move, your presence is disturbing my Feng Shui."
"Feng what?" he asked, and I heard the confused disbelief in his voice replace the anger that had been there just a second earlier. I'm not sure if the disbelief was because I claimed to not know who he was or because I apparently preferred my Feng Shui over him. Either way, it stopped him in his tracks, and it was obvious I had thrown him off his game.
Sakura: 2, Hidan-the-foul-mouthed-narcissist: 0.
Oh yeah. I was on a roll, baby.
But Hidan apparently didn't know when to quit. He got over being stunned, and glowered at me, crossing his arms once more and placing his feet hip-width apart, towering over me in what was an obvious show of body language telling me that he was the one in charge, he was in control, and he was more powerful than me so therefore I was beneath him. Tssk. Really?
"Are you fucking serious?" he demanded again, his voice serious instead of angry. I'll give him this much, he didn't stay angry for long; but then again, it was because his self-centeredness and refusal to believe I didn't recognize him that he became serious. Honestly, you'd think I'd told him I didn't know who the Beatles were. Come to think of it, he probably thought of his group as modern-day Beatles, so I might've as well.
"Yes, I am," I replied, once again not even sparing him a glance. "Now please move. I work hard on my Feng Shui and I'd rather not have it disturbed by your negative chi."
"What the hell's Fang Achooey? Some sort of sneeze exercises?" he asked, obviously mocking. I fought the urge to shoot him a dirty look, and instead settled for rolling my eyes at him. I was about to retort when someone beat me to it.
"It's Feng Shui, you idiot, not 'Fang Achooey'. S-H-U-I. And it's an ancient Chinese art and science that focuses on balancing the energy within a room to give good fortune to those inhabiting said room."
Both Hidan and I turn towards whoever gave the explanation; Hidan with irritation and me with mild curiosity. It wasn't every day you met someone who knew what Feng Shui is. Sure, back at Cambridge people had heard of it but never quite actually knew what it was.
To my surprise, walking towards us was a boy barely older than me with ruby-red hair which hung messily in half-curls around his head with locks flopping down on his forehead and on the nape of his neck. He had a boy-ish face, with round cheeks, a small nose, and big, hazel eyes which were half-closed as if he would fall asleep at any moment. His face was bored, as if the current events including the Feng Shui topic were a daily thing for him. He wore a brown short-sleeved turtleneck with black baggy pants which covered his feet, and a belt with a big cowboy-styled buckle.
I recognized the boy by the name of Sasori. And behind him was a blonde guy with a hairstyle that reminded me of Ino. Aside from both being blonde, though Ino's hair was more platinum-yellow since it was so pale while this guy's was golden, they both had a single long bang fall over their face while they held back the rest on a ponytail. But the similarities kind of ended there.
The new guy had styled his hair in a half-up, half-down way, where his long layered tresses (and they were long – they reached past his shoulders!) hung down loosely but he had pulled the shorter layers back into a high ponytail behind his head, leaving only the bang I'd mentioned before to hide his right eye. He had a V-necked, three-quarter sleeved shirt with white slacks. Unlike either of his companions, he wore an easy, friendly smile, and I was suddenly sure he was the one laughing like a maniac. Searching my memory, I identified him as Deidara.
"Not only that, yeah," he said, picking up where Sasori had left off. For some reason he seemed familiar… "It's an idea that's been around for three thousand years or more, and its purpose is also to achieve stability and harmony. You know, Hidan, you really could use some of that, yeah."
"Shut up, you fucking pussy," Hidan snapped at Deidara for the second time in less than five minutes, and my suspicions that Deidara was indeed the one laughing himself silly were confirmed. But then it clicked. The easy smile, the friendly attitude, his childish humour and laugh, the "yeah" thrown in at the end of a sentence, the twinkling blue eye…
"I know you!" I exclaimed, jumping up from my seat and pointing at Deidara, effectively startling Hidan and earning a few raised eyebrows. "You're the guy who got the wrong luggage belt at the airport the other day!"
Deidara looked surprised for a second before a grin split his face. "That's me, yeah. How'd you recognize me?"
"The 'yeah' at the end of every other sentence kind of gave it away, but I'm also good at remembering little details that most people overlook." I shrugged. "After seeing you just now, I was reminded of you at the airport and I made the connection."
"That's impressive, yeah. I mean, considering I was disguised and all, you still picked up on subtleties? Wow." And he did sincerely look impressed. I gave him a small smile, but before he or I could say anything, Hidan interrupted us.
"What the hell! You know who the pansy is, but you don't know who I am?"
Deidara scowled at him, Sasori shook his head at him, and I rolled my eyes at him. Seriously, how self-centered can you be? "I said I recognized him from the airport, dummy, not that I knew who he was." Okay, so it was a half-lie. Bite me.
Now it was both Sasori's and Deidara's turn to give me a bewildered look. Well, mostly Deidara; Sasori was still looking bored. What gave him away was the subtle way he raised his eyebrows, his eyes opening just a fraction more, and the way he slightly tilted his head to the side as he watched me, as if he was trying to figure out a puzzle. I guess he gave me a curious look more than a bewildered one.
"Are you for real, yeah?"
"Well, kind of. I know you're all part of a band called Akatsuki; I know your names are Deidara, Sasori and Hidan, but that's about it."
Now Deidara was openly gaping at me, Sasori has a surprised look and Hidan looked like I just told him Santa didn't exist. Did I really look so much like an obsessive fangirl that it was such a shocking revelation? Honestly.
"So you don't know our last names?" Sasori asked, a hint of scepticism in his voice.
"You don't know what positions we have in the band, yeah? Like, the instruments we play and sing, yeah?"
"That's a negative."
"You don't fucking know our birthdays? Our hometowns?"
"No on both counts."
"You don't know our ages?"
"I can guess from your looks, but no, not really."
The three of them looked utterly shocked. Meanwhile, the rest of the group had quietly approached us, and were now standing in a cluster by Sasori and Deidara. They had obviously heard everything, no doubt waiting for something entertaining to happen. But they wore surprised expressions too (well, some of them, three of them looked impassive), so I guess they weren't expecting that.
One of the impassive ones stepped forward, a guy about the same age as Hidan with spiked pumpkin-orange hair, ringed grey eyes and so many piercings I briefly wondered if he had once tried to break the world record for it before giving up. Seriously.
He had three piercings on either side of his nose, both eyebrows were pierced, he had twin snake bites under his lips, and each ear held about a dozen piercings raging from hoops to studs. He was wearing a simple sky-blue polo shirt which contrasted strongly with his hair, a folded bandana tied to his forehead, and black dress pants. I looked at him in the eye, wondering what he would say.
"This is a bit of a surprise, really."
I blinked. His voice was surprisingly calm and soothing; I really was not expecting him to have such a smooth, rich voice that had such a powerful effect on me. All me attention was focused solely on him, the other band members fading to the sides as temporarily unimportant. There was something else about him that was brought to my attention when he spoke: he simultaneously looked younger and older than Hidan. Younger because his face was not as defined with the ragged angles of "manliness" like Hidan seemed to have, but his sharp eyes and controlled voice gave the impression that he had seen many things and done just as many. His presence alone commanded – not demanded, like a certain albino – respect and all your attention; which I readily gave him.
"How is it a surprise?" I asked, my voice as calm and serene as his, surprising us all.
"Normally when we get recognized we are swarmed. Even when the fan is as calm and collected as you," he inclined his head in my direction, "they usually start to make a conversation with us; although they already know a lot about us. We're used to it, so it was surprising to not only have a girl not know who we are but also to dismiss us so easily."
I gave him a crooked grin. Direct and precise, very good. Just like a leader. Then it came to me. This was the Akatsuki's leader, Pein. I always wondered how that could be since usually band leaders are the lead singers of the group, but Pein was not. Now that I met him, I can see why he held his position.
I responded, "I have my dignity in place, and I'd rather keep it that way. I don't know you, but even if I did, I promise that I'd have acted the same because honestly it's not very nice to be insulted for no reason." I gave Hidan a pointed look, finally tearing my eyes away from Pein. "Plus I dismissed him, not you. You came over on your own. And frankly, you're better company. Your chi is nicer."
Pein gave me tiny smile, his eyes twinkling with amusement while Hidan scoffed at my words.
"I told you so, yeah," Deidara not-so-helpfully reminded him, and Hidan growled at the blonde, aiming a smack at his head but Deidara ducked, smirking, and stepped beside me.
"So what about my chi, yeah? Is it nice?" He asked me, casually putting his arm around my shoulders. I raised an eyebrow at him. A bit forward, wasn't he? But he did it in a friendly way, as if we had been buddies for years. I didn't mind, he was a pretty nice guy and loved to put that foul-mouthed albino in his place like me. I smiled at him.
"Your chi is wonderful, Deidara-san," I replied, patting his cheek like I might've patted a dog on the head before I ducked from beneath his arm. "But my chi has its own personal bubble, and until our chi get more acquainted, I'm afraid my personal bubble is off limits."
Deidara pouted, I don't know if it was because I'd addressed him with "san" or if it was because I rejected his move, or both. But before he could say anything, I was glomped in a tight hug that put Naruto's to shame, winding me.
"And me! And me! What about Tobi? Is Tobi's chi nice?" a tuff of black hair asked me excitedly. I struggled to loosen the hold of whoever was holding me, but he had an iron grip. I glanced down from the short spiky black hair that was in front of my eyes to see who my captor was, and I was not surprised to see the face of Tobi, the Akatsuki's youngest and most childish band member who was known for often speaking in third person.
"I…Tobi, I'll tell you if…you let me go…can't…b-breathe…" I choked out, and was immediately dropped as if I was on fire, making me lose my balance for a second but thankfully a hand steadied me until I could hold myself up. I looked up to find it was Sasori who had helped me, and I gave him a grateful smile which he returned with a quiet nod before taking his hand back.
"Tobi's sorry! Tobi didn't mean to hurt pretty girl! Is pretty girl angry with Tobi? Tobi didn't mean it, Tobi swears!" Tobi cried, panicking as he waved his arms around as if he couldn't decide what to do with the naughty hands that almost choked me in the ferocious embrace.
"Of course it's your fucking fault, you retard! You almost choked the life outta her!" came Hidan's angry growl, and Tobi started wailing more, his shoulders hunching up.
"Tobi, it's okay! It's okay!" I calmed him down, moving up to him and taking hold of his upper arms to stop them from flailing around as I shot Hidan the best glare I could muster. "You didn't hurt me, Tobi, it's okay. You're just strong." He sniffed, looking up at me from beneath his long, dark eyelashes of his one eye, the other being covered by an eye patch.
"Pretty girl means it?" he asked hesitantly, and my heart melted. He was so cute! Plus he called me pretty, which is always welcome as long as it's said in innocence like Tobi and not from some old lecher.
"Yes, Tobi, I do. Now, how about a smile?" I asked him, giving him a bright smile of my own to encourage him. After looking at me unsurely for a second, he gave me a hesitant smile which slowly escalated into a big, cheesy grin. "Much better!" I praised him, and he laughed happily as I ruffled his hair affectionately.
The rest of the Akatsuki were watching us intently, but I was focused on Tobi so I forgot about them until I turned around only to have them all looking at me with varying degrees of shock, awe, and… respect?
"Damn, Pinky," the tallest member of the group, a man I connected with the name Kisame who was probably one of the tallest people I've seen standing at about 6'5", said. "That was impressive."
I frowned, not understanding what he meant and faintly resenting the nickname. What was impressive? And hold the phone, was Kisame blue? I stared at him for a moment, taking in his appearance. Sure enough, his skin had a light blue tinge to it which worried me a bit, and his hair was most definitely blue. It also didn't help that he wore dark blue jeans and a navy blue hoodie. He had three tattoo lines under his eyes at the top of his cheeks on either side of his face, reminding me faintly of gills, and his lips had a darker blue tinge than his skin, making me wonder if he used lipstick to make them that way.
Itachi, who stood passively beside his enormous companion, the smirk of before gone leaving only a ghost of itself on his otherwise stoic face, offered an explanation. "Tobi can be quite a handful, and when he's upset it takes a long time to calm him down. Even for us, who're used to him and know how to do that, it takes some time before succeeding. Then you come in and calm him down in a matter of seconds, which is a first and previously considered near impossible."
Deidara whistled. "That's the most I've ever heard you say at one time, Itachi, yeah. What gives?" Itachi turned his eyes towards him, shrugging almost imperceptibly before turning back to me, taking up silence once again.
"How much?" a new voice asked, and I turned towards it with confusion. A man with dark tanned skin, glowing green irises in a black sclera sea and tattoos all over his body resembling stitches looked intently at me, and I figured it was him who'd asked the question.
"How much what?"
"How much do you charge for babysitting?"
I was stunned. Babysitting? Did I look like a babysitter?
"Excuse me?" The man rolled his eyes exaggeratedly before looking at me again.
"How much do you charge for babysitting?" he asked slowly, as if I had some sort of mental disability. My cheeks flushed in anger. What was it with this guy? First Hidan harasses me with insults, and now this guy implies that I'm stupid and, apparently, some sort of courtesy service to be used at his convenience.
"I don't charge anything," I said, and his eyes gleamed with glee. "Because I'm not a babysitter. And even if I was, I wouldn't do it because I'm here on vacation. Idiot." He scowled at me then, before turning away and muttering incomprehensible things. Then it clicked; this was Kakuzu who was known as a real scrooge. His greed and love of money was legendary, and it was rumoured he was one of the richest men in the world.
"Now, Kakuzu, don't be like that," another member, this one with wide yellow eyes and very short green hair, said to the scrooge. "It's not your place to ask ladies to do your dirty work for you. Be a goddamned man." I jumped, startled at the change in his voice. The first two sentences his voice was light and quiet, like you'd imagine an English gentleman to have, but then that last sentence changed into a deeper, rougher voice that you'd expect from a bear.
He turned to face me, extending his right hand out. "I apologize for both Hidan and Kakuzu, I know they can be quite the assholes. No, don't say that. But it's true. It's still not nice to say it," he argued with himself, forgetting about his hand.
O…kay. Obviously a split personality; though I've never heard of a case where both personalities are awake and not only conscious of but also interactive with each other before. Interesting guy.
Just then I feel a hand intertwine with mine, and, thinking it's Tobi, I turn to smile at him only to barely suppress a scream as I see a man with a face strikingly similar to his but with longer, wilder hair and no eyepatch smiling widely at me.
"But what a beautiful flower we have here!" he gushed, yanking on my hand causing me to fall towards him, my hand gripping his shoulder for balance. "My, how forward you are. What a delightful woman!" he chuckles, and I once again feel heat rising up to my cheeks.
"Madara-nii! Madara-nii! Let the pretty girl go!" Tobi demanded of my capturer, who is apparently no other than the famous player Madara, and also Tobi's older brother.
Madara let go of my hand only to wrap both arms around my waist and back, holding me to his body. "Now, Tobi, don't ruin Madara-nii's special moment." Then he ran the fingers of the hand that held my shoulders through the ends of my hair, caressing it in what seemed a too-intimate way, and I snapped.
"Let me go!" I yelled as I placed my hands on his chest and pushed myself away from his grasp. I succeed in putting some distance between us, but his arms refused to let go. I hate getting violent - but this is sexual harassment! So, I lifted my hand, shrieked "You pervert!" and slapped him across the face.
There was a heavy silence, but I paid it no mind as I straightened my ruffled shirt and tried to smooth out my hair, sticking my nose up in the air indignantly as I walked away from Madara.
"Bitch slapped the pervert!" Hidan broke the silence with his laugh, and continued to go into hysterics like Deidara had done before. Soon enough the rest of the group joined in, chuckling or merely smirking while Deidara and Tobi held each other for support since they were laughing so hard.
Madara, on the other hand, placed his hand on his red cheek and slowly turned to face me, his eyes wide like a dear in headlights. "You… you hit me! Me!" he spluttered.
I rolled my eyes, still not having forgiven him. "No shit, Sherlock."
"No one has ever done that! Not even when I was born did the doctor spank me!"
"There's a first time for everything."
Madara continued to look at me, bewildered, before the mother of all smiles appeared on his face. "You're perfect! My angel! My ideal woman!"
I froze my fussing, giving him a what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you look over my shoulder. "Say what?"
"Yes, I've decided! You, my dear, are the one I've chosen to have the privilege to go out with me and, in the future, marry me! You're the one I want to get serious with!"
Everyone around us gave him WTF looks. Me, for obvious reasons, but the guys I wasn't so sure. Hell, even Sasori, Kakuzu, Pein and Itachi were giving him looks.
"No way, yeah! I saw her first!" I raised an eyebrow at Deidara's protest.
"She is quite pretty, like a doll…" Um, thank you Sasori?
"Hn." I see where Sasuke got that from.
"Meh, she's useless if she can't make money." Thanks for nothing, Kakuzu
"She's pretty nice." Thank you, Zetsu (or is it Zetsus?).
"Fuck you, she's totally into me!" Not even in your dreams, Hidan!
"Pretty girl likes Tobi the best!" So far, Tobi, yeah, I do.
"She's quite interesting, isn't she?" If you say so, Pein…
"She's a wildcat, our Pinky is!" Drop the nickname, Kisame, that's so not original!
"Hey!" I yelled, and the group broke apart from each other and turned to me. "I'm standing right here, so don't speak about me as if I can't hear you!" I looked them all dead in the eye, and only a few of them had the decency to look abashed while the rest of them had the nerve to smirk at me.
My phone, which was tucked neatly into my pant pocket, vibrated to Elvis letting me know I had a text. I gave the Akatsuki one last warning look before pulling it out and glancing at the screen, reading the message and quickly typing a message back before sending it. I looked back up and stared the Akatsuki down, saying, "And for the record, stop talking about me like I'm a fucking prize. Hell, I've known all of you for less than an freaking hour!"
Hidan groaned, and I shot him a look. "What?"
"Goddamn, bitch, you sound fucking hot when you swear. Do it again!" I gave him a horrified, disgusted expression before I hotly answered him.
"Hell to the no! And by the way, Hidan-san, I think you're an ass." I turned towards the rest of the Akatsuki. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go. Later." And I grabbed the remaining of my abandoned, though still lukewarm, coffee and headed towards the hotel's front entrance.
"Bitch is hot. Seriously. She so wants me," I heard Hidan smugly said to his companions in Japanese.
"Like hell she does, yeah," Deidara answered him, also in Japanese. "She just called you an ass."
"Better than a pansy."
"I'm not a pansy!"
"Silence," Pein commanded. "I will admit that she is a very attractive woman, and interesting as well; however I will not tolerate band mates turning on each other for a woman. Besides, she obviously likes mature men like me better."
"In that case, since I'm the oldest, she'll love me!" Madara. No surprise there.
They quietly bickered about me in Japanese, and I scoffed at them. Idiots. They probably know I can hear them but don't care because I don't look Japanese so they don't think I understand it. Big mistake.
"Angel-chan! Angel-chan! Pretty girl!" Tobi called for me just as I opened the front door. I turned slightly so I was facing him sideways.
I could see the furious faces of the Akatsuki glaring at the back Tobi's skull, probably because I'd addressed him as "kun." Stupid, possessive men. The irony is that none of them have a claim on me.
"What is angel-chan's name?" Tobi asked, walking towards me until he was an arm's length away and oblivious to the murderous gazes behind him.
"It's rude to ask a person's name before giving your own, Tobi-kun. Try again," I smiled gently at him. He puffed out his chest with pride, and grinned.
"I'm Tobi Uchiha!" he proclaimed, then the others jumped in.
"I am Madara Uchiha, beautiful."
"I'm Hidan Hireiko, bitch. You better remember that!"
"Hn. Itachi Uchiha."
"I'm Deidara Iwa, yeah!"
"Kisame Hoshigaki, at your service, Pinky."
"Zetsu Hanamori. Pleased to make your acquaintance."
I smirked at them. "Nice to meet you, Akatsuki. And F-Y-I..." they all leaned forward expectantly. I savored their shocked expressions when, in perfect Japanese, I said, "I speak Japanese." Then I turned on my heel and left the hotel, heading towards Naruto's awaiting black pickup without another glance at the group, and without telling them my name.