A/N: This story is inspired by "of course it had to be spiders" on AO3, posted by esmeraldablazingsky. It's basically the same premise as this one, but with the Konoha Twelve and the Sand Siblings. I'd post a link but obviously that won't work here, but it's got a pretty fast pace so it's worth a read.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, the Akatsuki or any spiders.

Konan stared at the spiders.

The spiders stared back.

Konan slowly turned her head.

More spiders stared at her.

Blinking once, the blue-haired woman calmly closed the door and turned to her orange-haired companion. "Nagato, we may have a problem."

When joining a powerful criminal organization composed of some of the most powerful S-rank Missing-Nin in the world with the stated purpose of dominating said world, members had certain expectations.

A week-long retreat at some camp ground to improve group morale and inter-organization relationships was not one of those expectations.

And yet, here they were, all nine Akatsuki members (and Tobi) all herding into cabins for some weird vacation-thing that still technically counted as part of their work.

"We didn't even do this kind of thing back in Kiri," Kisame commented as he hefted a duffel bag loaded with a week's worth of clothes over his shoulder. "This kind of bonding-feelsy trip seems more like a Konoha thing, ne, Itachi-chan?"

The Uchiha in question merely grunted in reply, his eyes squinting at the pamphlet in his hand before glancing at the decidedly rustic cabin next to them. Cabin number two would be their temporary home for the next week, and if his failing eyesight was not deceiving him, the pamphlet expressly stated it possessed all the modern commodities including electricity and hot water. A nice shower would do wonders for both of them, and he silently mulled over whether he should claim it for himself first or let Kisame wash off his week-old musk first as he opened the door.

When he first looked inside their temporary accommodations, Itachi's first thought was how peculiar the color scheme was. Black walls? Funny, given the cabin's rustic exterior he fully expected the walls to be bland unpainted wood. Perhaps Pein had requested it to be painted in advance to match their group's aesthetics.

His lips thinned at the thought of Kakuzu's reaction to the extra expenses that request would entail. The retreat hadn't even officially started and yet the miser would already be in a horrible mood. Sighing softly, he walked inside and dropped his bag on the table.

"Kisame, we have hot water so you should take a shower first," he stated, deciding to let his partner have first go at the shower so he wouldn't smell so... well, would "fishy" be offensive if it was true?

When his partner didn't respond, he turned to the door with a bland expression to find the blurry blue form of his partner standing in the doorway. A small sound akin to a squeak escaped the giant shark man, and Itachi arched a finely shaped eyebrow before activating the Sharingan so he could see Kisame's face. Renewed clarity filled his vision, and Itachi blinked before slowly tilting his head back to stare at the ceiling.


It appeared the walls weren't painted after all.

Staring at the constantly shifting river of black specks rippling across the walls in a constant flurry of movement and motion, the infamous clan-killer stood in silence for approximately five seconds. Then he closed his eyes and calmly exhaled, letting his muscles loosen.

And then he bolted out the door past a shell-shocked Kisame at speeds that would put Gai to shame.

Rustic cabins and forested campgrounds held no allure for Sasori and Deidara. They grew up in the desertous Suna and the mountainous Iwa, both locations known for a distinct lack of forests and trees in general. Camping retreats did not fit into their childhoods, and so the pair of artists felt mildly irritated to be forced to stay in some shabby cabins.

"This is a waste of time, un," the blonde bomber complained, scowling as he stalked down the dirt path in search of the cabin they'd be using. According to the pamphlet Tobi enthusiastically handed him they'd be staying in Cabin Three, located in a nice clearing with a picnic table touted as perfect for outdoor meals. Which just annoyed him even more because they already spent most of their time outdoors dammit!

Next to him Sasori just skulked along in silence, the hunched form of his puppet Hiruko dragging through the mulch. "Stop your whining," he warned Deidara in a gravely voice. "It is starting to annoy me."

The blonde scoffed and rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah. I know you're just as annoyed by being dragged into this, hm. I am not looking forward to a whole week with that Uchiha bastard, un!"

The puppet master didn't deign the comment with a response, partially due to his natural apathy and partially due to agreeing. However, as irritating as the prospect of a week spent "boosting everyone's friendships" was (Tobi's words, not his), Sasori admitted he looked forward to this week long stay in a cabin. Usually he had to perform maintenance on his puppets inside caves (because summoning a puppet army in a tiny hotel room never went over well), so a chance to have an indoor space relatively safe from the natural vermin and pests of nature would be a wonderful change of pace.

He hated insects and the like, they kept trying to crawl into the joints of his puppets during maintenance. Simple routine procedures could be stretched to hours because some stupid fly would buzz into the gap between the arm and shoulder just as he slid the limb back into place, and then he'd have to take it apart and clean off the splattered fly guts and then he'd have to check the other joints to make sure no bugs got in there, and.

Yeah. No.

He hated bugs, period.

This thought alone kept him from outright refusing to join the retreat, regardless of the fact it had been ordered by Pein himself. He blocked out his partner's incessant whining as they reached the cabin, instead mentally cataloguing which puppet in his giant arsenal should receive more priority for maintenance. Maybe he should work on his own body first, it had been a while since he'd had good enough conditions—

"Wh-what the hell!?"

Deidara's stunned sputtering broke Sasori from his thoughts. Apparently they'd arrived at their destination, and the blond currently stood in the doorway of the cabin clearly shaking. His bag slipped from his hand to the door step and Sasori saw a flash of pink as the tongue on his hand's mouth stuck out as if in disgust, and the blond slowly backed away.

"What now?" Sasori bit impatiently, slinking past the blond to stare into the cabin. Only to freeze.

Spiders. Hundreds, upon hundreds, upon thousands of spiders swarmed the floors and walls of the cabin's interior, doing their typical spider-y business.

And as he stared at them, for the first time since relinquishing his mortal flesh for the beautiful wooden form of a puppet, Sasori felt his heart twinge with something. Something he never expected to experience again.


Pure, utter revulsion racked through him, an overwhelming urge to blanch at the sight of the tiny arachnids covering the interior of the cabin as he heard Deidara's knees give out with a girlish squeal. And when he realized he was feeling disgust, he felt another emotion. Anger. Anger that the sight made him feel something. And when he realized he now felt angry, well. He just got even more mad.

Kakuzu did not see why they had to go on some sort of retreat to boost group morale and interpersonal relationships. The Akatsuki consisted of cold, ruthless murderers, half of whom could be considered insane. Absolutely none of them were the types to indulge in friendly behaviors.

Most of them didn't even get along with their own assigned partners. For all the respect between them he knew Deidara and Sasori spent half their time arguing about what qualified as art, and that Itachi and Kisame had a bit of a standoff about how to go about accomplishing their assigned missions.

And don't even get him started on him and Hidan, if not for the crazy zealot's immortality Kakuzu would have killed him long ago. It almost made him regret killing his other partners, because they had been at least more bearable and didn't mouth off about some stupid deity every five seconds or waste hours on unnecessary rituals. If he were more philosophical, the bounty hunter would ponder if perhaps their acquaintance was a form of karma, a punishment for all his misdeeds.

But then, the concept of karma fit into many religions, and he would have no part in any sort of deity after having to live with the Jashinist.

Kakuzu spent the walk to his cabin brooding over his misfortune. He had plenty of time to do so, cabin four happened to be located at the furthest point of the campground, almost a full mile from all of the other cabins. He had no doubt that they'd been assigned the isolated location purely because of Hidan. Somehow that just made him even more irritated.

If the Akatsuki were going to have to put up with each other for a week to "make friends with each other" (Tobi's words, definitely not his), the least they could do was put in some effort. Instead he'd be effectively isolated with the idiot far from the rest of the organization.

At least the stupid brat had run ahead to the cabin to get "first dibs" on the bedrooms and bathroom. Kakuzu gladly let him do so, taking the opportunity to savor the peace and solitude as he took his leisurely time in reaching the cabin. Alas, his walk was nearing its end, as attested by the myriad of angry screams and curses now reaching his ears. He growled in annoyance as the cabin came into sight, his partner's crass shouts even clearer now even through the closed door.

Great. The zealot was in a bad mood too.

Properly irritated, Kakuzu stalked to the door and swung it open. His demand for the crass idiot to shut up died on his lips though, his eyes widening as he took in the spectacle before him.

A furious and frantically shouting Hidan stood in the center of the room swinging his scythe wildly, practically dancing as he hopped from foot to foot among the swarm of spiders around him. Somehow his cloak had already gotten ripped and had a single sleeve torn off to reveal his torso, and for a second Kakuzu thought he'd exchanged the standard-issue Akatsuki cloak for some bland black cloak. Then he saw some of the black shift to reveal a flash of red and white, and he realized that no, Hidan hadn't changed.

The spiders just covered the red clouds.


Wow, that is a lot of spiders, Kakuzu mused idly as he watched his partner screech in outrage. Apparently he intended to sacrifice them to Jashin because Kakuzu could already see black start to spread across Hidan's body. Then he realized the damn bloody circle wasn't on the floor, and he amended his assumption summarily. That wasn't the stupid ritual technique, Hidan was just covered in spiders.

Watching as his shrieking partner fell to the ground overrun by a mass of black, Kakuzu just closed the door and walked away, heading back to the entrance pavilion. Maybe if he was lucky, the spiders would devour Hidan and he wouldn't have to put up with him anymore.

While the three Akatsuki pairs tasked with most of the grunt work dealt with their cabins, the pair who effectively composed the leadership of the group met inside a large tree made of paper. Nagato's already worn face looked highly troubled, his ringed eyes narrowed in intense concentration as Konan hovered next to him with a concerned expression on her face.

"The situation is not boding well," he murmured with a slight grimace. "The cabin may be a loss." Even as he spoke he watched through Yahiko's eyes as he had the Deva Path battle the infestation of the cabin he and Konan had been assigned.

"Shinra Tensei!" he yelled, repulsive force blasting from his open palms. The waves of spiders pushed against the wall in a flat sheet, the ones at the back of the mass crushed by the others and falling to the ground limply, but the rest surged to the ground once more and resumed their onslaught. Nagato growled in frustration in his real body as he watched the next wave launch their attack.

The door of the cabin suddenly opened, and the Deva Path turned to see Uchiha Itachi peering inside. "Leader-sama, I apologize for intruding, but—" The clan killer stopped upon seeing the hordes of spiders currently battling the God of Amegakure, his normally stoic face perfectly blank while behind him Kisame just turned a pale blue bordering on white.

As Nagato prepared to launch Shinra Tensei once more he thought for a second that he heard a small squeak from the Mist ninja, but decided it must be his imagination.

More waves of spiders flew towards the walls under the intense pressure of his gravitational control, and the two Akatsuki members standing in the door expertly dodged to the side to avoid the mass of spiders that flew past them. Seconds later Pein flew through the door and ran into the trees, racing away from the cabin at top speeds. He felt Itachi and Kisame follow after him, effortlessly keeping pace, and as they ran he glanced over his shoulder to address them.

"What was it you needed to ask me about?" he questioned, fearlessly meeting Itachi's gaze. Partially because he was a God and had far more power than even the Mangekyo Sharingan, and also because he had doubts whether the Tsukuyomi would work given his split consciousness.

"I see you have problems too," the Uchiha remarked blandly, and both the Deva path and Nagato frowned as they mulled over this.

"Nagato?" Konan pressed, concern evident in her voice. "What's happening?"

"Itachi and Kisame apparently also have an infestation in their cabin," he informed her, and her face grew grim and thoughtful.

"If two cabins are infested, than there's a chance all of them are," she murmured. "Should I check on the others?" Nagato opened his mouth to respond when they heard a explosion, muffled and distant from his real body but relatively loud and nearby to the Deva Path.

The trio of Akatsuki automatically skidded to a stop and spun to face the direction of the blast. Plumes of smoke rose into the sky above the tree line, the color far too light to be from a fire. As they watched it in silence darker smoke soon mixed in with it though, forcing them to alter their initial conclusion to now account for burning wood. Kisame heaved a loud sigh, pressing a hand to his head. "Let me guess, Deidara and Sasori are in that direction?"

"I believe so," Pein replied simply, and the trio changed course to rescue their erstwhile companions.

The battle against the spiders had proven even more difficult than expected, because every time they got rid of some, more would appear. Scattered pieces of splintered wood and metal served as a testament to Deidara's valiant attempts to bomb the spiders to death, his efforts ultimately proving futile and only breaking furniture. Outside the discarded form of Hiruko laid on the grass in a crumpled heap, the joints of the scorpion tail rendered useless by the sheer amount of spider corpses crushed between every joint.

Streams of fire spewed from the pipes on the puppet master's palms as he stood at the door of the cabin, watching with an indifferent face as he watched the wall of living black writhe and burn. He also remained totally indifferent to the fact the wooden walls had also been ignited by the flames and now burned, the crimson blaze spreading to consume the entirety of the interior. The cabin would be necessary collateral damage.

As he watched wave after wave of spiders burn, he could hear loud thuds against the roof and ceased his flamethrower to quickly jump back. Above Deidara circled the cabin atop one of his clay birds, his blue eyes gleaming with a manic desperation visible even from the ground as he raised his hands into the seal of confrontation.

"Die already, yeah!" he shouted furiously, and the slew of clay bombs littering the roof expanded before bursting. The roof collapsed with a magnificent crash akin to thunder, and the smoke from the flames that had consumed the interior yet miraculously had yet to extend to the exterior quickly rose through the newfound gaping hole. Sasori quickly retreated from the growing inferno, his chakra strings quickly snagging Hiruko and dragging it to a safe distance.

Deidara swooped down and hopped off the bird, panting as he stood next to his partner to survey their handiwork. The cabin had now been totally consumed by an orange and gold blaze, one which would likely spread to the trees within the next few minutes. "Do you think it worked?" he questioned.

"It better," Sasori growled, and then jerked suddenly and fell to the ground. Surprised, Deidara spun to face his fallen partner only to stare. The canister containing his heart protruded slightly from the hole in his chest, partially dislodged by a swarm of spiders which had somehow managed to crawl into it.

"...Ew," the blond muttered, grimacing at the sight. He should probably try to fix it, but... touching it would be so—so gross...

As he stared at his fallen partner with a growing sense of conflict, three black blurs suddenly burst through the trees and skidded to a stop. He lazily glanced at his fellow members and then scowled at the sight of one Uchiha Itachi. "Ew," he repeated more vehemently, his face contorting into a strong blend of disgust and hatred.

Totally unfazed, Itachi just walked to the motionless puppet and nudged it with his toe. "It appears one of Sasori's puppets has fallen," he remarked flatly, and Deidara opened his mouth to correct him only to pause. The blond briefly contemplated how Sasori would react to him revealing that to be his body, and that he'd also been fallen by a bunch of spiders dislodging his core.

He promptly blanched and bobbed his head. "Uh, yeah, it is," he said quickly. "Sasori-danna, uh, left to, um, get... help. Yeah." He bobbed his head again, his ponytail bouncing against his skull at the force. Kisame sent him a slightly disbelieving look but the other two seemed perfectly unfazed.

"This makes three cabins," Pein declared grimly. "At this point we should assume that Hidan and Kakuzu are also dealing with an infestation."

"Hidan's handling it." The four Akatsuki turned to see the Taki ninja walk out of the trees, totally unperturbed and spider-free. He darted a glance at the smoldering remains of the cabin and narrowed his eyes before turning back, leveling a cold glare on Deidara. The blond instinctively shuddered and retreated three steps, while the other three calmly stepped to the side to smoothly escape the murderous glare.

"Uh, h-hey, Kakuzu," Deidara greeted sheepishly, flashing a nervous, shaky smile. "L-long time no see, yeah?"

"This will void our deposit," the miser growled, taking a step forward, and Deidara screamed as he turned and fled at top speeds.

"Hey Kakuzu, did you have spiders in your cabin too?" Kisame questioned as Kakuzu ran past them in pursuit, and the bounty hunter merely grunted in reply, not bothering to look at him.

"Hidan's handling it," he grunted, and quickly disappeared from sight as he chased the idiot money-wasting bomber.

Is this because... I'm not devout enough?

Sacrificing the spiders to Jashin-sama had proven impossible. His scythe had failed to slice through the tiny abominations at an efficient level, the blade managing to part the black mass but overall dealing little damage to the swarm as a whole. Unbelievably, he had actually run out of insults for them, his creative and supposedly infinite reserve of curses exhausted by the sheer overwhelming force of his arachnid foe.

Overrun with spiders and covered in a layer of arachnids so thick they were beginning to crowd his vision, the fervent Jashinist could only stare at the ceiling in helpless silence. His maroon eyes, usually filled with manic and sadistic glee, had glazed over and dulled, his normally indomitable will and stubborn streak weakened by the sheer volume of eight-legged monstrosities currently crawling all over him.

Was this some sort of punishment from Jashin-sama? Had He not been pleased with Hidan? Had his sacrifices not been satisfactory enough? Lately he'd been unable to perform as many sacrifices as he usually did because Kakuzu kept trying to force him to rush the ritual. The damn heathen had no appreciation for the fine intricacies required to please Jashin-sama!

But if it was truly Kakuzu's fault, then why would Jashin-sama punish Hidan? No, Hidan must be at fault in some way. He must have offended Jashin somehow. Otherwise he would not be receiving this sort of punishment. He had sinned, and as a devout followed of Jashin-sama he could only question His judgment, he could only accept it.

Hidan fell into a fugue state so thick he failed to notice his body get sucked into a vortex, his eyes blank and glassy and clearly not registering the fact that he now resided in another dimension. Tobi nudged his shoulder with a foot, watching as sheets of spiders rolled off the man.

"Ew," he declared in a deep monotone, and then the pair swirled so they now resided in the middle of a forest several yards away from the cabin. Taking a deep breath, Tobi spun and took off running while yelling in a high-pitched voice, "Guys! Guys! Tobi saved Hidan-senpai! Is Tobi a good boy? Can Tobi join the Akatsuki now?"

"Dammit!" Kakuzu's voice shouted from somewhere in the distance, and Hidan just continued to stare at the sky listlessly.

Eight cloaked figures and one un-cloaked figure sat around a crackling campfire, their shadows stretching far behind them in the flickering light as dusk fell over the forest. A heavy atmosphere hung over the group, their faces all holding varying states of unease.

Pein had no discernible expression, Konan looked mildly calm but still slightly nervous, Kisame had regained a healthy blue hue to his skin but still looked rather disturbed, Itachi appeared calm but occasionally twitched as his eyes darted to the trees, Deidara seemed mildly horrified but not enough so to deter him from shooting murderous glares at the Uchiha, Sasori inside Hiruko had no expression other than the permanent glare Hiruko seemed to possess, Kakuzu kept glaring at both artists, Hidan stared at the fire with a look that could best be described as the "Thousand-Yard Stare," and Tobi—

Well, no one could see Tobi's face underneath that orange swirly mask, but they all decided it safe to assume the happy-go-lucky idiot had a goofy smile under the mask. Why did Tobi want to join a group of notorious S-rank missing nin again?

After a long silence Pein cleared his throat, and seven-and-a-half pairs of eyes turned to face him. "I hereby declare this retreat a failure," he announced, and the others grunted in agreement save Hidan, who might be in a permanent vegetable state.

"I thought it was fun," Tobi chirped, and eight complete pairs of eyes turned to level bland glares (or in Hidan's case, hollow, lifeless staring) at the masked goofball. After the events of the day, the Akatsuki had renewed doubts about whether he could experience anything other than unbridled cheer and childish optimism. Seriously, why did he want to join them again?

At this point some members turned to shoot expectant looks at Hidan in anticipation of a loud chorus of outraged cussing directed at the ever-happy man-child. However the normally crass zealot remained perfectly silent, his eyes still glazed and glassy.

Kakuzu silently decided he preferred this new side of his partner, and hoped it might be permanent.

"By the way, where's Zetsu?" Kisame asked, and everyone paused as they finally noticed the plant man's absence. Slowly they turned to Tobi once more, since at this point his only apparent connection to the organization seemed to be the plant man with two personalities.

"Tobi, do you know?" Konan asked, and the lollipop-masked person just scratched his head.

"Uh, Zetsu-senpai was with me when we got here, but he said he had to go visit someone and left."

"What kind of people would Zetsu even know besides us, un?" Deidara mumbled with a frown, and the others just looked at each other and shrugged.

Meanwhile, many miles away from the campgrounds, a certain plant-like entity skulked among a garden filled with various exotic plants, his Venus flytrap-like exterior blending perfectly with the deadly botanic spectacles filling the space. The two giant green fronds closed together to conceal the white-and-black face hidden within, the figure partially sinking into the ground as footsteps drew close. After a few moments the fronds parted ever so slightly, a single golden eye peering through the bushes and ferns at the path.

Sandaled feet treaded down the paved path only to pause, and soon a hand reached down to pick up a scrap of paper. "Oh? What's this?" A pensive silence followed, and then the feet resumed walking. Satisfied, the fronds closed and Zetsu sank into the ground completely, slinking away.

As the organic artificially-produced being zoomed away a silver-haired man returned to the base, a basket of medicinal herbs and poisonous plants dangling from one hand, while the other held a piece of paper. He walked down a hall until he reached a door with a loud series of screams emerging behind it, and knocked once before opening it. An overly pale snake-like being hunched over a screaming man strapped to a table, ignoring the screams as he dabbled with tools.

"Lord Orochimaru, I found a strange flyer in the garden when I was retrieving plant samples for the experiment," the silver-haired man reported, holding the paper in the air. The snake-like man glanced in his direction, his neck extending rapidly as his head essentially slithered through the air to stop a few inches from the paper.

"A campground?" he questioned as he read over it. The flyer advertised some sort of campground with several cabins and touted it as a wooded resort perfect for shinobi-related business retreats. A collection of photos of rustic cabins decorated the page, all of which appeared perfectly lovely despite the slightly grainy quality of the black-and-white printing.

Humming thoughtfully, his head snapped back to its original position as he turned back to the terrified man. "Perhaps we should have a retreat," he mused aloud as he cut into the man's arm. "It may help sway Sasuke's loyalty even further in our favor."

Elsewhere in the base, a certain young avenger suddenly felt a chill run down his spine for reasons he couldn't explain.