Chapter 26

"Team Asuma, Izumo, and Kotetsu, I'm assigning you to a mission of finding and capturing two of the Akatsuki."

The listed ninja and Shizune looked at Tsunade with shock clearly written on their features.

"Lady Hokage, are you sure we'll be enough?" Ino asked, fear and doubt evident in her voice.

"The Akatsuki are strong, but together, you are stronger. There's power in numbers, and it's even better if those numbers have a lot of power themselves too," she replied.

"Which ones are we going after?" Asuma inquired, not feeling an ounce of fear at all.

"Their names are Hidan and Kakuzu. Hidan has white hair, red eyes, and has been reported carrying a scythe and Kakuzu is apparently a creepy looking man with stitches everywhere. We got the info from Kirigakure, whose two-tails jinchuriki got captured."

"We're finally being assigned an important mission," Kotetsu and Izumo cried silently with joy.

Tsunade glared at them slightly annoyed. "What? Getting my sake isn't important enough?"

"N-no, getting your sake is an honor," Izumo stuttered.

"We meant that we will be helping out even more by eliminating threats and keeping our team mates safe," Kotetsu explained quickly, trying to avoid as much of the bad-tempered Hokage's wrath as he could. He saw her tense up and then sigh.

"Alright. Anyways, be as careful as you can. We will be sending backup if you contact us for help. They were last seen heading toward the village on the main road from Suna, about two hours away. Go and stop them," she ordered.

"Yes," they all bowed before running out of the building and through the village gates.

The blonde woman watched them from the window.

"Lady Tsunade, do you think it was a good idea to send only five people on a mission like that?" Shizune spoke up.

"I don't know. I just hope that they can make it of out alive. I'll be devastated if anything happened to them."


"Well, well, look what we have here," Hidan smirked, looking at the Konohagakure ninja squad that had landed before him, or as he liked to call them: fresh sacrifices. He and Kakuzu had taken a break from training with the other Akatsuki members to hunt down some ninja from the bingo book. They had just killed a bunch of monks and captured a man called Chiriku, who was one of the twelve guardians or some crap like that; Hidan didn't really care. Kakuzu was actually still inside the building that they were all next to, receiving ryo from the capture of the famous monk.

"You're Hidan of the Akatsuki," the oldest ninja glared, getting in a fighting stance.

"And you're ninja who are messing with the wrong Akatsuki member," the Jashinist held out his scythe. The younger ninja got into a certain order and went into different stances as the criminal looked on with amusement. He saw the oldest one charge at him with blades with glowing air around them.

"Asuma-sensei!" most of the team yelled. The younger one with his hair pulled back in a spiky ponytail was the only one of that group who was calm about Asuma running at him. Hidan smirked and prepared to move out of the way, but was shocked when he couldn't move. He looked down and saw that the ponytail kid had a shadow attaching them.

Asuma's blade sliced right through his neck. The albino’s head fell from his shoulders to the ground, rolling away slightly. The ninja squad members loosened up, satisfied at the quick victory. "Wait, don't get too careless. That was too easy of a win, especially when it comes to the Akatsuki," the shadow user said, glancing suspiciously at Hidan's unmoving body.

"What do you mean, Shikamaru?" the blonde girl asked.

"He's right, Ino," the biggest teen in the squad narrowed his eyes at the Akatsuki member. "It was too quick."

"You little pests are right," the Konohagakure ninjas stared in horror at the talking head of what was supposed to be a dead Hidan. They watched as the limp body suddenly got up and walked to where the head was, picking it up and putting it on the top of the neck where Asuma had sliced through. "Damn, I need Kakuzu to sow me together again," he growled. "KAKUZUUUU!"

"Don't be such a rude partner or I will kill you," the other member came out of the building.

"I refuse to be polite to anyone, especially to you," Hidan narrowed his eyes. Kakuzu had just noticed the company and had his attention set on them, ignoring the Jashinist.

"I recommend leaving now before you set off my temper and get killed," he said emotionlessly. He really didn't want to go through the trouble of fighting when he had bounties to collect. That was when he saw Asuma and the mostly white cloth that stuck out from under his Jonin vest. "I know you from somewhere."

The wind user and the Akatsuki member glared at each other for a few moments. "I'm Asuma Sarutobi."

"You are worth thirty five million ryo if I capture you," the man stepped forward slightly. His mind had changed; he was now wanting to fight so he could get that money.

"Let me do it," Hidan cut in. "That is, once you make my head connect to my body again."

Kakuzu sighed with annoyance and sent out small cords from his arms, reconnecting the body parts of his annoying partner. After it was finished (with the ninja squad watching in mild fear and disgust), Hidan moved his neck around a bit to make sure it was readjusted properly. While he did that, he drew a circle with a triangle in it from his blood, which the other team just saw as some weird meaningless pattern. "Thank you for waiting, now it's time to die," he smirked, launching himself toward the squad.

He saw shadows moving along the ground and was sure to dodge them all, not wanting to be immobile with Shikamaru's shadow jutsu. "Team formation B!" Asuma called. Everyone scattered and circled around Hidan, each trying to get close and strike him. He was great at dodging, but so were they. He couldn't get any of them with his scythe.

"Asuma-sensei! Look out!" Shikamaru warned. The man looked up and just barely leaped out of the way as cords stabbed the ground where he was just standing.

"Stay out of this! It's my fight," Hidan growled. His partner stared at him boredly.

"You're taking forever. We need to get this done and over with so I can collect the bounty."

While they were slightly bickering, Asuma took the opportunity to charge silently at Hidan. Unfortunately for him, the albino was still on his guard and flicked out his scythe, the blade slicing a small cut in the attacker's cheek.

"Sensei!" Ino gasped, readying her healing chakra.

"It's alright, it's only a small and shallow cut," the wind user assured.

"It only takes one drop of blood," Hidan smirked evilly. He walked to where he drew the strange shapes in the ground, and the ninja squad looked on in shock and fear as he licked the few drops of Asuma's blood off of his blade. His skin turned black with a few white splotches, the main one being on his face. His blood red eyes stood out even more against his extremely shaded body.

"What… What is this?!" Izumo backed up slightly. Kotetsu took out a kunai and gripped it tightly, holding it on front of him just in case Hidan suddenly got some extra power or was made of weapons now or something, though it was evident that he was solely focused on Asuma.

"Now, should I torture him a lot or a little?" the Jashinist thought out loud.

"You only got lucky that one time. You won't be able to get another hit on me," Asuma said arrogantly.

"Oh, you're so sure about that, are you?" Hidan took his blade and cut a deep wound in his side.

"That's completely pointless," Choji was confused for why the Akatsuki seemed to be very proud of self mutilation. "He's only hurting himself." That was when Asuma let out a loud gasp and fell on his knees, holding his side in the same place as Hidan had hurt on himself.

"Haven't you figured it out, kiddies?" the man smirked. "I'm immortal, which means I can't die. Hurting myself isn't even painful anymore. It actually feels good." He sliced the back of his left knee as he saw Asuma try to get up. The wind user fell back down with a pained grunt before slowly crawling towards Hidan. "It's not a good idea to have hope here. You're going to lose."

"Asuma!" the three teens cried. Hidan smirked and punched himself in the ribs hard, breaking a few of his bones.

"You guys should... Get out of here…" Asuma wheezed.

"But-" Shikamaru started to object, only to be interrupted by his team leader.

"Just go!"

"Izumo," Kotetsu whispered, at a loss of what to do as co-captain of the team.

"He's our team leader; if he tells us to retreat, then we should… Right?" Izumo answered.

"I think not," Choji stepped forward. "Shikamaru!"

"Right!" the ponytailed teen performed a few hand seals and the shadows around him started bending to his will. "Push him out of the symbol. I think that's the key to stopping that bond of pain."

"Then let's go! Ino-Shika-Cho formation!" Team Asuma shouted.

Hidan noticed the attitude of the squad go from discouraged to determined. He noticed shadows creeping along the ground once more and laughed. While he was in his symbol, petty elements, ninja tools and shadows couldn't reach him. "Nice try, but your dumb tricks won't get me now," he smirked.

"Oh yah? How about that?" Shikamaru said, pointing behind the immortal. Hidan's eyes widened when he saw Choji turn into a spinning human boulder that was heading right for him. He wouldn't dare move out of his symbol on his own; it would break the bond between him and Asuma and it would be a pain to re-establish it since he was supposed to be dead by the time the bond breaks the first time.

He crouched down, hoping for the best as the Akimichi plowed into him. Against his will, he got moved out of his symbol by just a few inches, breaking the link between him and Asuma. He looked over and smirked as the oldest male on the squad was still on the ground, wheezing and trying to get up.

"Finishing this will be easy," he said confidently.

"Not so fast," Shikamaru interrupted his silent pre-victory inner party. "You should look where you're standing."

Hidan looked down and mentally swore when he saw a thick shadow connecting him to the spiky-haired teen. 'Damn it! He caught me! And what is that old geezer doing about it?' He looked over where Kakuzu was leaning against the building, counting money. 'Then again, I told him not to interfere. Whatever, I'll win this alone somehow.'

Shikamaru knew that he didn't have much chakra left to hold the jutsu. "Ino, now!"

"Mind-transfer jutsu!" The blonde announced before she left her body slumped on the ground, invading and taking over Hidan's body. "Ew, this is really gross. It's like I'm covered in blood but I can't actually see it."

"Ino, please hurry up before you run out of chakra and leave me, Kotetsu and Izumo to fight an immortal," Choji said, picking her left-behind body off of the ground and putting it against a tree.

"How do we fight an immortal," Kotetsu asked.

"Good question," Shikamaru answered.

"You don't, especially when his partner gets bored of him failing to fight off a petty squad," Kakuzu, who previously stuck in the background, was suddenly next to Hidan with wires ready to attack his partner and kill the soul of the intruding girl. This had turned out to be a pain to wait for Hidan after all…

"Ino, get out of there!" the other squad members cried.

"Release!" she called, her soul leaving Hidan's body a millisecond before Kakuzu's wires stabbed through him, ripping his body apart slightly.

"Hey! What the hell do you think you're doing?! I may be immortal but I'm still against you trying to kill me!" Hidan yelled in fury.

"Then don't get possessed next time," the old man replied, glaring at his partner.

"You say it like it's controllable," the albino hissed. "Anyways, if you want to help then do what you want. I'm so pissed off that I don't even care who gets killed by who."

"As long as I don't have to wait around any longer," Kakuzu glared at the squad.

"Retreat!" the nearly-forgotten Asuma commanded before falling over again.

Hidan marched over to the man. The Konoha ninjas looked on in horror as he swung his scythe down, cutting open the wind style user's chest and stomach. "Asuma!" Kotetsu yelled.

Izumo turned into water that quickly flowed to Asuma, picking him up and carrying him away from Hidan and back to Shikamaru, Ino and Choji. "Anyone know a teleportation jutsu?" he asked urgently. The others shook their heads and glared at the enemies who were slowly advancing toward them. Right when the two were about to attack, they suddenly stopped in their tracks.

'Kakuzu, Hidan, come back to the base immediately,' Pain's voice rang in the Akatsuki members' heads.

"But we're in the middle of something," Hidan growled.

'Don't argue, just get here. If you protest again, I will cut off your head and limbs and pin you to the wall.'

"Okay, okay, calm your-"

"I wouldn't finish that sentence if I were you," Kakuzu interrupted. He turned to the opposing ninja. "It was a shame we couldn't finish you off and collect the money from your bounties." the two turned around and ran off at inhuman speeds.

The attention of the ninja squad members was turned to the dying man, who was gasping for air and holding back screams of pain. "Sensei!" Ino panicked, instantly performing medical ninjutsu, trying to heal him.

"It's no use. Don't waste your chakra," he wheezed.


"Ino," Shikamaru shook his head. She stopped and dropped her hands to the ground. Tears filled her eyes and she started shaking.

"If we'd left the first time he told us to, he wouldn't be dying," she sobbed.

In the limited time he had left, Asuma spoke soft and encouraging words to each of his students, telling them he was proud to have taught them, and in his last breath, asking Shikamaru to take care of the child that was currently growing in the woman he left behind, Kurenai Yuhi. The light had finally dimmed in his eyes, and they all bowed their heads to mourn. Asuma was dead.

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