|Wind Over Tide
Author: Samurai101 PM
With Kakashi at his back, Itachi expects his ANBU initiation mission to go smoothly. With his own doubts, an informant who tries to kill him repeatedly, and a mercurial Tsuyu Shisui in the mix, Itachi might have fallen in rougher waters then he can swim.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Drama - Itachi U. & Shisui U. - Chapters: 12 - Words: 77,229 - Reviews: 56 - Favs: 28 - Follows: 41 - Updated: 04-02-13 - Published: 03-02-12 - id: 7888057
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Very rough chapter, not yet beta'd. I'm gonna be travelling, so I wanted to get this up before it got any later.
When Sandaime had asked Kakashi to take this mission, Kakashi had almost refused. Kakashi had as little to do with Uchiha as possible. It wasn't because every face reminded him of Obito, or that he didn't like them, but the Uchiha had a certain attitude towards him. It started with Obito's mother screaming at him for killing her child and stealing his eye (and trying to claw out said eye), and luckily improved from there. Not much, but they did improve. Fugaku was at least civil, though he looked like he'd like to throw Kakashi in jail for something.
Still, Kakashi tended to avoid the Uchiha and also avoided unnecessary confrontations with them and theirs. Things just went better when he didn't try mixing with them. Also, Kakashi hated politics. They were messy. They killed good men. Uchiha were steeped in politics of the worst kind. As a rule, Kakashi played dumb and fluff whenever someone started in on politics and things of that ilk. Usually, it worked. He buried his nose in his orange book, and no one thought much else about him. He thought his white hair might help in that. People knew he wasn't old, but it helped with the overall image.
Sandaime, of course, knew better. He also knew Kakashi wouldn't deny him anything. When he asked, Kakashi had still almost declined, knowing what acceptance would entail. He could think of thousands of excuses, and Sandaime might have let him back out of it.
Ultimately, what stopped Kakashi was the faded memory of Obito's funeral. He'd been hiding best he could in the crowd that very peppy morning, listening to the memorial service for that month's fallen and thinking someone ought to have done something about the sun. He'd only noticed the Uchiha by the fan emblazoned on their backs, and then he made the mistake of trying to pay his respects. After being screamed at by a crying woman, he'd learned something about human nature and how to keep a mask in place.
His head still aching, Kakashi had only been able to stare as the hysterical woman was ushered away by her family, all of whom shot Kakashi venomous looks. It was a small child that lingered. A tiny, tiny little child with wide eyes and a pink mouth pursed in thought. He had to be about five, though he carried himself like a small adult. The child had walked up to Kakashi, then bowed as properly and neatly as any in a daimyo's court.
"Thank you for honoring Obito-nii's memory."
Simple words in a piping little voice, but Kakashi had remembered them. They had soothed him a little, but there was really no hope of consoling him fully. Obito was dead. Itachi, the little heir of the shrinking clan, had hurried away as his mother called his name and never glanced back. But, it was that memory Kakashi thought of when he thought of Itachi, not the various little snippets he'd seen of the child growing up and becoming the genius people hailed him as today.
With that memory in mind, Kakashi had agreed, and he had spent the next week watching Itachi go about his normal life. Much to his surprised, Itachi figured out he was being followed the morning of the second say—or Kakashi realized that the child knew he was being followed. Overall, little had changed. Itachi was still a rigidly polite child who carried himself like a small adult. He wasn't blindly obedient, but, if given the choice, he always chose what was "right." Fastidiously polite, Itachi never responded with violence or harsh words. He had a temper. Kakashi had seen the flash of it in his face and eyes when someone else was slighted. If Itachi chose to hurt someone, he did it quickly and efficiently. In three words he could cut down clan members twice his age, and he could beat all but the best of his clan at twelve.
Kakashi wrote his initial report and then left Konoha, genius Uchiha child in tow.
And what did he find?
Itachi was just as perfect and precise as ever, and that would make an excellent ninja. Still, that bothered Kakashi. Itachi didn't act much like a child, and he stumbled on human interaction that fell outside his rigidly structured norms. Kakashi had thought this undercover mission would give Itachi a chance to be more human and less ninja—a truly cruel choice, but this was something that would challenge the little heir. The genius.
All things considered, Kakashi could care less if the mission blew up on them. It was a silly squabble chosen because it didn't matter. Kakashi wasn't cruel enough to throw Itachi into a situation he would flounder in where his floundering could be dangerous. All that mattered was they not die, and Kakashi didn't see how either of them could—until Shisui and the Mist-nin.
The silver tongued, wickedly bright contact they'd made the mistake of promising more than he wanted. Kakashi had felt reservations when he'd first seen Shisui chatting with Itachi. Shisui had obviously been keenly interested in the child, and Kakashi had realized, as he watched them, that Itachi's childish features could to some be "pretty." That was one trouble Kakashi knew Itachi had no experience with. The villagers didn't refer to Shisui as their trickster spirit for his wide smiles and off kilter eyes, and anyone could see their was mischief and malice in the boy's face. One of the women selling charms had grabbed Kakashi's arm and told him to "Watch that one. Keep your boy safe." Kakashi, seeing Itachi's flustered discomfort with the other boy, had assumed that Shisui would pose Itachi no problems. Itachi would be too discomforted to spend much time around Shisui, and he would be on his guard whenever he was around Shisui.
"No, Shi—please just sit daaaaaah!"
Kakashi had missed something there.
Kakashi, sitting at the table, knew he should be trying to help Itachi, but, honestly, he had turned the handling of their contact over to Itachi fully, and he didn't like to take over what he'd already handed over. This would be a good learning experience for Itachi. Whether he would learn how to handle difficult contacts or when to not invest so much in one had yet to be seen.
Kakashi sipped his tea and contemplated this. The very girlish shriek did have him looking over in concern, but he decided he would continue to contemplate the actions that had brought him here, waiting for Mist-nin to descend on them and letting a twelve year-old handle a psychotic contact.
Such was the life of Konoha's Copy-nin.
"Shisui. If you don't get off of me, I will castrate you. I am not kidding." Itachi grated out the words, as frazzled and frustrated as Kakashi had ever seen him. Kakashi counted this as a very good thing.
Shisui pinned Itachi's shoulders to the ground, sitting on Itachi's hips, with his shins over Itachi's thighs. If Itachi's hands hadn't been free, it would have been a perfect hold. Itachi, after getting a finger bitten, another almost broken, and thrown across a room, had stopped trying to fight off Shisui when he went like this.
If he ever recovered, the most valuable thing that happened on this mission might be Shisui. Kakashi hadn't expected to find an actual Uchiha bastard running loose, and it seemed he was stronger, or as strong as, Itachi. Their genjutsu skills were equal. He would, of course, be a useful asset to Konoha whether or not he chose to join the village, but the Uchiha would throw a fit if they found out a bastard was allowed to go free. A freelance contact like him could be invaluable, if he was stable. At the moment, he was anything but.
"Where did you hide my shit, bitch?" Shisui snarled. His face twisted, and he suddenly went for Itachi's throat. Kakashi stayed still, but Itachi bucked Shisui loose, then kicked Shisui hard enough in the gut to send him flying off. Then Itachi scrambled and pinned Shisui, almost getting his nose bashed in.
As the two grappled, Kakashi realized Itachi probably had little experience fighting like this. While Shisui was violent at times, he had yet to prove really murderous. Not yet. Not towards Itachi, and that was why Kakashi was sitting back and watching. When he'd tried to help, the results had been five almost deaths and some stitches for Kakashi, and Shisui had spent the next hour screaming at Itachi. Now Kakashi just sat back and watched.
"OW!" Itachi yelped. Shisui was trying bite himself free of the bear hug the younger had gotten him into. After about five minutes of struggling, Shisui quieted, looking around as if he might have an idea of where he was. Maybe. He gave Kakashi a wary look and shrank back into Itachi, clutching his arms instead of pushing him away. Itachi relaxed a little as well, then Shisui wrenched Itachi's wrist and darted free.
"Flaming ash," Itachi hissed, then translocated on top of Shisui, crashing them both to the ground. Shisui rolled on top of Itachi, kneed him in the gut, and kicked Itachi across the floor. Itachi scrambled to his feet and pounced again.
Kakashi doubted anyone had ever put Itachi through so much trouble. As the boy went tumbling off again, Shisui took off for the bathroom, Itachi right behind him and grimmer than Death. Yes, Kakashi decided as the two careened off, Shisui was good for Itachi.
He'd been a bit concerned when he'd first realized what was going on. Itachi had been, within the first few days, enamored of Shisui. Kakashi hadn't really seen the harm in it, but he'd watched carefully. It wasn't until the two had tried to kill each other Kakashi had started getting concerned. An attraction to a random civilian would be fine—easily severed. Itachi knew his business.
Or, Kakashi had thought so. Itachi still thought he knew his business, and he was partially right. Shisui could help them, but they also should have cut him loose long ago. If the mission had been any more important, Kakashi might have, but, this was Itachi's mission to make or break. This was his contact to keep or cut.
His friend to make or kill.
Whether or not Itachi realized it or not, Kakashi did. Something magnetic had happened between the two. Watching things evolve, Kakashi had become certain Shisui felt it as well, but he'd known what he felt more than Itachi had. He'd fought it. He'd know the danger, and Itachi hadn't realized how deep he was in until the current had already dragged him under and drowned him to sense and reason.
Kakashi realized the bathroom had gone quiet. He stood and silently crept across the floor. He eased his way into the bathroom, hoping they hadn't both bashed their heads in or escaped out the window. Instead Kakashi found them in the bathtub, Shisui pressed into Itachi's shoulder, clutching the other as if he was his only life line. Kakashi couldn't hear the words that ran from Shisui's mouth, faster than the island's little streams, but he could guess at the content. Itachi's eyes were dark, his young face troubled as he gently tried to wedge assurance in between the waves of choked words.
Itachi glanced up at Kakashi, his face pinched war tight with worry. He asked a question with child's eyes Kakashi couldn't answer, and he knew it. Itachi turned his eyes away as Shisui raised his face from Itachi's shoulder, and Itachi ran a gentle hand down the back of Shisui's head, palm rubbing over his ear. Shisui grabbed Itachi's wrists and shove Itachi's hands over his ears.
"Make them STOP. Devils and fishes, Ita….make them stop. Please, please, make them…" The words trailed off into a tight lipped whimper.
Itachi looked like someone had stabbed him. He pressed his hands to Shisui's ears and leaned his head on Shisui's. Kakashi tactfully withdrew.
"Come look at the map, Shisui," Itachi suggested as he and Kakashi poured over the map of the island Kakashi had managed to find. Neither of them thought the coves were properly marked. Kakashi had been shocked to find a map this good at all, but he hadn't expected it to be accurate. A place like this wasn't really kind to visitors, even when they brought money. Visitors were supposed to stay in the village confines, not go wandering into sacred places like coves and landing ports. They might anger some god or goddess or, worse, a demon.
Shisui sat crammed in the window, ignoring them as he had been for the past five hours. Itachi had tried any number of things to get his attention, but Shisui remained a sullen lump on the window sill.
Itachi puffed out his cheeks a little and scowled like a petulant toddler. Kakashi decided to blame the boy's current lack of sleep and think nothing else of it. Itachi pushed a think swathe of bangs back behind his ear and leaned forward to peer at the map in front of them.
"What about this harbor?" Itachi asked.
"The question is, why not any harbor? We don't know." And the man who did know was sulking in the window. Or, perhaps it wasn't a sulk. Kakashi actually wouldn't venture to assign any emotion or motive to Shisui right now. Last time he'd thought Shisui was pleased to see him, his tea cup had been coated with poison.
"We have to choose something," Itachi gestured to the map and then frowned. The frown smoothed and, after a few moments, Itachi began to hum. Kakashi raised an eyebrow, but Itachi kept his eyes steadfastly on the map and hummed, obviously embarrassed because his cheeks were pinking. After five minutes of this, Shisui moved. His head creaked around, dark eyes suddenly bright.
Shisui came off the windowsill arms first, slinking down, then sliding a foot between his hands and pushing himself up to his feet. In a spiraling manner, Shisui made his way over to Itachi, stopping behind Itachi and pressed a foot to his back. Itachi ignored him, and Shisui dropped down like a descending rapture, clamping a hand over Itachi's mouth.
"Stop it," Shisui growled. Even as his head was cranked back, Itachi'd expression didn't change. He simply reached up and pried Shisui's fingers from his mouth, which ended in them clenched around his own fingers. In a quick move, Itachi had Shisui's arm snugged under his, and he leaned forward, pulling Shisui forward with him. Shisui rose onto his knees and leaned against Itachi heavily, but Itachi didn't even waver.
"Someone's going to land and take over the island. Where are they going to land, Shisui?" Itachi asked. Shisui tugged at his arm one or twice, but gave up and leaned his chin on Itachi's shoulder so that it would dig in. Itachi continued to ignore and waited. Shisui twitched and shifted around until Itachi pinched him between his thumb and pointer finger, then started humming again.
"Fishtide cove, but you have to sacrifice a virgin to use it," Shisui clipped the words oddly, stabbing a finger at the map, then snapping at Itachi's ear. Itachi shoved and elbow into Shisui and slid himself away.
"Can you lead boats in safely that way?" Itachi pressed. Shisui paused, face shuttering, like someone snuffing a candle. Itachi started humming and, after a few moments before the shutters creaked open again, Shisui glared.
"Yeah, gotta contact," He grinned, bare and bitter as bile. "Fancy that. Contact of a contact of a contact of a contact of a contact…"
Itachi ignored the repetition and touched the point on the map. "That is the cove we will use." Kakashi nodded, and wondered if the contact of their contact would deal with them, or if a contact babbling off his head could contact anyone.
Perhaps it was time for some fresh air and a cup of tea.
"I'm going to send a message to our employer. The traps are set," Kakashi spoke softly. Itachi's newest way of keeping Shisui calm and not screaming was brushing Itachi's hair. Shisui did this with great concentration and shaking hands. His injured arm moved slowly, but it was healing faster than Kakashi had hoped it would.
Itachi nodded, solemnly not worried about any of this anymore. He winced as Shisui tugged too hard on a strand of hair, and Shisui muttered an apology. He blinked for a moment, glanced at Kakashi, then glanced back down at his hands. The strands started to run through his fingers, and Shisui scrambled to hold them tighter.
"We'll be fine until you return," Itachi assured him, his face still mottled from Shisui's violence and bags under his eyes from not sleeping well for the past few nights. Shisui leaned his head against Itachi's back and went still. Itachi's face only flickered slightly—exasperation, anxiety, the desire to leap up and scream. Kakashi guessed on the last one, but Itachi's jaw worked tight before he made a quick hand motion to dismiss Kakashi.
Kakashi set one final trap on his way out the door and set out as Kaika, the perfectly unassuming, rather lecherous old man who didn't really love his job but had no other skills. Most of Kakashi's disguises involved lechery. People thought to little of anyone given to it, so they would overlook a lot about someone if they assumed lechery motivated him.
It also meant fewer people tried to read over his shoulder. He hated that little habit. People shouldn't be so nosy about other people's reading habits. Books should be private.
Kakashi wandered his way out of the inn, grumbling about his sick apprentice and his idiocy. Since Itachi was much loved by the kitchen staff, Kakashi was dutifully ignored. He rather liked that. He also liked, in some ways, having a young rather charming partner that could, without even trying, make anyone female and over the age of twenty-five love him and wish the best for him. As Kakashi made his way out of the inn, he tucked his scarf in a little better. Having the lower half of his face exposed always made him feel naked now. In fact, he could probably walk down a street naked as long as he face was covered and be less self-conscious then walk with his face exposed.
Kakashi pondered this very strange fact and let his shambling walk take him out of the village. The hour was one of the odd ones that had the village caught in a lull. Kakashi passed out of it with only a few terse comments about the weather, how Itachi was, and what the fishing forecast would be. This town really did run on fish.
Were it not for the Mist-nin, Kakashi would have run as soon as he was outside of the village. Since they were about (supposedly), Kakashi kept walking, making the winding way down to the little hut where he should be able to find a pigeon and a message from their employer. Someone on the island had to be acting as a contact, but Kakashi had yet to figure out who. He suspected it was one of the palace staff, but he could guess no more than that. He could have found out, but it wasn't something that needed to be done to get this job done.
As Kakashi turned by the gnarled little tree and headed for the small shack, he didn't pause. He didn't slow. He simply kept walking and opened the door as if he suspected nothing.
Then, when someone in the corner moved, Kakashi moved faster, knives going in opposite directions to pin a sleeve and almost a neck to the wooden walls. The almost came because Kakashi recognized the face in the shadows, and it wasn't someone that he would want to kill. Perhaps in a few desperate fantasies, but not in the flesh.
"Maa, Kakashi-kun, that was uncalled for." Genma didn't even look concerned, his eyes still as lazy as always. Kakashi smelled old blood on the man and glanced back to the presence he felt behind him. Of course, Naimashi Raidou and Shiranui Genma had been partners since before Kakashi could remember, and they would probably continue to work together until one of them died. Some pairs worked like that. Kakashi preferred to rotate his partners. It kept him from getting used to them, and he would rather not do that again.
"If you stabbed him again, kid…" Raidou's rough voice sounded rougher than usual, and Kakashi didn't take offense. He was younger. It also showed how exhausted these two must be that Kakashi would warrant "kid."
"Can I ask what you're doing here?" Kakashi sheathed his weapons and turned so that he could see them both. Raidou's scarred face twisted into a grimace, and Genma shrugged, tugging the knives from the wood.
"We need a safe place to lay low for a night," Genma explained. Since the shrug was onesided, Kakashi could guess why.
"Just a night?" Kakashi pressed as he moved to see if his pigeon was still around, or if Genma and Raidou had scared off the delivery rat. The pigeon was there, as was a scroll from their employer. Kakashi tucked the scroll away and pulled the bird's cage to himself.
"We should be able to slip past the sniffers if we just have a night to get behind them and rest," Genma offered in further explanation.
"And it has nothing to do with my mission," Kakashi's mission was hardly a secret in ANBU. By now, everyone knew what was going on with Itachi, and anyone could guess who had been sent to deal with the boy. The location, however…
"How did you know?"
"We stopped by Lie's on the way over. She said you'd been through and told us a direction," Raidou explained over Genma's smirk. "We figured this place would be far enough out of the way we could lay low."
"And take back some reports?" Kakashi asked with a raised eyebrow. He carried his pigeon to a window and set it free. The little bird lofted easily into the air, then beat its wings against the sky before soaring off. Kakashi watched it, just in case it should have some hideous accident. There was nothing quite as depressing as watching your messenger bird get struck down by a hawk.
"Well, if you have any to send…" Genma smiled lazily, senbon clacking against his teeth. "How's it going anyway?"
"Itachi-kun is much like I expected," Kakashi replied. He looked the two men over. "We should approach the village from the south. There are some Mist-nin around, and I'd like to avoid suspicion."
"Mist-nin?" Raidou's brow rose. "I thought this was supposed to be an easy mission."
Kakashi smiled wanly. "It seems nothing with Uchiha is ever simple."
It wasn't a question of whether or not Kakashi would give Raidou and Genma a place to hide for the night. He had to. He would never again leave a comrade in danger when he could help it. He also set up transportation for them in the morning, and then explained them away as his co-workers, come to pick up maps and samples.
Genma came as his superior, and Raidou hulked behind as a bodyguard. With his scar, he could really be nothing else. Kakashi left them haggling about a room and went to secure a double dose of dinner for them all. Kakashi then went upstairs to warn Itachi about what was going on. When he opened the door, he didn't see anyone. A quick check of the bathroom proved there was no one there either. Kakashi came back into the main room, getting slightly worried as he looked around and wondered where they had gone. Had Shisui successfully escaped?
Kakashi paused as he heard a noise. He walked back to Itachi's bed and peered under it. He was met by red eyes, and Shisui regarded Kakashi with extreme distrust that bordered on almost murderous contemplation.
"Having a good rest?" Kakashi asked. Shisui had Itachi's face pressed to his chest. Itachi seemed sound asleep, and Kakashi wondered if he'd been drugged. He'd never seen the other nin sleep that soundly. He didn't even stir at the sound of Kakashi's voice, but as Shisui tugged him closer, Itachi murmured something. His hair had been braided back intricately from what Kakashi could tell. Shisui's hands seemed to have recovered from their shakes somewhat as they cradled Itachi's body.
"You can't have him," Shisui almost growled.
"I didn't say I wanted him," Kakashi protested, head still upside down to see Shisui.
"Then why do you keep coming back and bothering us?" Shisui asked. Kakashi thought that he probably shouldn't be meeting Shisui's red eyes, but it seemed too late to look away now.
"I suppose it's because I was asked to watch out for him." Kakashi smiled. "And I don't trust you as much as he does." Shisui's glare doubled, but this time, his movement cause Itachi to stir. Shisui glanced down, then jerked his head back up to look at Kakashi.
"He likes me more than he likes you anyway," Shisui protested, childishly proud of this fact.
Kakashi nodded. "I know that, but what we like isn't always good for us. You know how much you could end up hurting him."
Shisui's hand curled around the back of Itachi's skull, and Kakashi could see Itachi was starting to really wake up now. Had he been drugged? His response time was very slow. Kakashi wouldn't put it past Shisui. Shisui scowled. "Not on purpose. Only because they told me too."
Kakashi felt a flicker of alarm. "Who told you to?"
"Higher-ups. Wanted to make it all look convincing. I doubled back when they weren't looking and helped her out," Shisui smiled, pleased with himself. "See, I care. I take care of her. I'd be a good father, and we could make a family."
. . .
Well…that wasn't what Kakashi had been expecting. Itachi was definitely awake now, and he pushed away from Shisui's chest, peering out from under the bed. His eyes flashed wide, sleep muddle drifting away as he tried to scramble out of Shisui's hold.
"Kakashi-san?" Itachi slithered half out from under the bed, but judging from the tension on his shirt, Shisui still had a firm hold.
"I'm glad to see Shisui is feeling better." Kakashi smiled and Itachi grimaced before a very rude sound followed from under the bed, and Kakashi was privileged to see Itachi fall down in a spasm. A true spasm . Kakashi decided few people had ever seen the Uchiha heir spasming on the ground because someone had blown a raspberry on his stomach.
Itachi managed to crawl out from under the bed fully, cheeks pink and looking completely humiliated. Kakashi thought it was good for Itachi to be subjected to such indignities. He was far too uptight about everything in general. He needed to learn to be flexible and take himself less seriously. Shisui might be a cruel way to make that happen, but he was making it happen. Slowly but surely, the bastard was wearing down the heir. It seemed ironically fitting.
"Kakashi-san, why is there so much food?" Itachi asked slowly, shooting the man a merely curious look.
"I've invited some friends to dinner," Kakashi explained solemnly. Itachi frowned now, turning to look at the bed. Shisui was still hidden under it, and Kakashi opened his mouth to explain further. It was then someone knocked and stepped in. Genma and Raidou filed neatly in, dropping character as they walked through the door. They were obviously ninja.
"Genma-sensei?" Itachi shot a glance at Raidou, who nodded his head.
"Itachi-kun, thought we'd drop in and see how things were going," Genma smiled and Itachi's eyes suddenly flashed wide. He whirled and leapt for the bed, but Kakashi saw the dark figure dashing out from under it first. Calmly, Kakashi stuck out a foot, chakra quick, and Shisui crashed to the floor, swearing like a wet cat. Seconds later, Itachi had pounced on him, knees on Shisui's hips and hands grabbing for a decent hold of some kind.
"I think I forgot to mention the contact we're harboring seems to be suffering from a mental break. Itachi is handling it," Kakashi explained to the surprised looking Genma (which meant his brows had risen a fraction) and Raidou. Raidou looked like he might want to step in and give the boy a hand. As Kakashi spoke, Itachi went flying off, thumping and skidding on the floor as Shisui jumped up. Kakashi was glad for the sound barriers they'd set up.
Itachi flipped to his feet with the grace of a dancer. He twisted on his heel, lunging for a place Shisui definitely wasn't before Shisui was suddenly there, and Itachi's sweeping kick knocked the other off balance. Shisui fell back against the wall and tried to kick Itachi in the gut. Itachi jumped over it, sticking both hands to the wall with chakra and swinging a knee into Shisui's chest. Shisui diverting the blow to his shoulder, dropped down, barely missed Itachi dropping on his head and dashed for the window.
Kakashi pulled his eyepatch off and watched what Shisui did this time. To his normal eye, the boy blurred. He could see the vague suggestions of chakra and intent, but nothing more than that. His gaze flickered to Itachi, and he could swear he saw a mirror image. Itachi's chakra was just a fraction off from Shisui's. It didn't move so quickly. It didn't bend with the purely fluid motion. It burned and crackled and licked at his chakra network, not as efficient or effective, but Itachi was in the window at the same time as Shisui.
They crashed together, landing in a tangled heap on the floor. Shisui immediately began thrashing and swearing, running the words together and over each other in such a way that Kakashi couldn't understand what was being said. The mash of accents didn't help, but last words that rose into a screaming shriek did make themselves known.
"Fishgutted fucking KONOHA-NIN AFTER ME!"
At this point, Itachi suddenly gained control and shoved Shisui back into the floor with his hold on Shisui's wrist. "Will you shut up and listen to me!"
Kakashi had never heard Itachi's voice reach over a shout, and he was surprised by the volume and force of it. Shisui paused for a moment, stunned. His lip was bleeding, as was his nose. He stared at Itachi, eyes red and wild. Kakashi waited to see if he would try to run again. Genma and Radiou were poised behind him, and they probably wouldn't let Itachi handle this on his own any longer.
"You made them start again. Those waved drowned…" Shisui's words trailed off, and he tried to buck Itachi off. "Brought 'em 'ere ye did, after yah said, after yah promised me…"
"I haven't broken one promise I made to you." Itachi insisted. Shisui looked uncertain, and he looked like he was going to fight again. Itachi tightened his hold for a moment, his lips twisting before he lowered his head.
"Do you trust me or not?" Itachi asked. Kakashi had been waiting for an eloquent argument or something more than that. Asking a contact if they trusted you was laughable, especially one as off his head as Shisui.
To Kakashi's surprise, Shisui stopped. He looked at Itachi and his eyes bled down to grey, though they stayed frantic. His chest heaved still, and nothing in his posture shifted. Itachi's hands shifted, his hold now more comforting than restraining. Something happened. Kakashi couldn't see Itachi's face, but he saw something relax in Shisui. Slowly, by inches, Itachi let Shisui sit, then, with all the care in the world, he pulled Shisui's head to his shoulder, placed his hands over Shisui's ear, and started to hum.
Dinner turned out to be a very silent affair. Kakashi tended to Genma's wounds with Raidou's help and restocked their pain medication. He doubted he and Itachi would need it. Hopefully not. Then again…
Kakashi could always buy more if he needed to. They were in a stable location, but Genma and Raidou had another week or running on their plates. When it came to helping out comrades, Kakashi could be generous to a fault, but he knew better than to put Itachi in too much danger. That, and Kakashi didn't want to deal with a twelve year-old in pain. He wasn't good with children.
As they ate, Kakashi placed a small scroll on the table between them. Genma passed Kakashi one and tucked the little scroll in a pocket. "Unsealed?" Genma gave Kakashi a questioning look.
Kakashi smiled. "It's in code. If you get bored, feel free to read it."
"No thanks, I've tried to decipher that drivel, and I don't know how Sandiame-sama does it," Genma grumbled. While Kakashi fully intended to give his full report in person to the Hokage, he also acted on a long time caution with the partial report in code to the Hokage. The update would be appreciated, and Kakashi was certain some message would be covertly passed to the Uchiha to assure the Itachi was alive as well. Most inductee's families would not be so notified, but there were the Uchiha and Itachi was their heir.
He was also suddenly stalking from the bathroom, looking furious. That translated to a snapping fire in his eyes, much like his chakra, and a haughty up tip to his chin.
"What were you thinking, bringing them here without giving me a warning," Itachi asked, voice a perfect miniature of his father's in full dressing down.
"I did tell you we were having friends," Kakashi offered vaguely, slipping back behind the sleepy mask of a man unconcerned with the world. Itachi noticed, and it kicked his frustration up higher. It also reined in the fire, and Itachi's anger clamped down dangerous cold and precise. Good, he had control.
"That was in no way sufficient warning of anything. You know he's not stable, and I had just gotten him calmed down and certain of who he was! You should have given me time to explain to him what was going to happen." Itachi demanded as if he had every right to demand such things of a man eight years his senior.
"Genma and Raidou were the ones who just came in," Kakashi pointed out. As Itachi glanced at the two, Genma held up a hand.
"Hey, I broke a stitch and we needed cover before I started bleeding through my pants. There was someone coming down the hall," Genma protested. Kakashi could almost swear the man was amused. Raidou was.
"It should have been handled better," Itachi asserted, giving them all a cold look that said he thought they were all fools and then some. Itachi moved to get some food, and Genma flashed a hand sign at Kakashi.
Kakashi agreed, but who would take orders from a twelve year-old Uchiha?
"Shisui doesn't know who he is anymore?" Kakashi asked. Itachi paused a moment in gathering some squid and then shook his head.
"It's something…I think it's genjutsu backlash. His memories are mixed with other people's, and his mind can't tell which are his and which are not. Even if they don't make sense all together, it seems to be trying to incorporate all of them, pulling them out in response to situations that mirror those in the memories. Even when he think he's Shisui, it's a fluid thing and he can slip out of it much faster than I can lure him into it…" Itachi explained, anger burning away into worry as his brow creased.
"Never heard of anything like that happening before," Genma murmured, looking to Raidou. Raidou shrugged.
"It…" Itachi paused. "It's something to do with a special genjutsu he's perfected."
"Does it have something to do with his eyes?" Kakashi asked. Shisui had shown up with a bleeding eye that had no obvious trauma. The redness had faded, and Shisui's sight didn't seem to be impaired.
Itachi shook his head. "I don't know." Kakashi wondered if that was true, or if Itachi simply didn't want to share the secrets of his clan with them.
"How long will it take for him to come out of the backlash?" Raidou asked.
"Hours, months, never," Itachi shrugged. "I don't know enough diagnostic jutsu to tell, and this is a bit different than anything I've ever heard about…" Itachi bit his lower lip for just a moment, then recaptured composure. "Please take care of yourself, Genma-san," Itachi added as he grabbed two cups and balanced them on a tray with the food. "You as well, Raidou-san."
"No sensei, Itachi-kun?" Genma asked, half playful.
Itachi flickered a smile. "I graduated your care a long time ago, sensei." With that, Itachi turned to leave. Kakashi noted someone had rebraided his hair. Kakashi watched the very careful steps that wouldn't slosh or spill anything and then glanced back at his dinner compatriots.
"He's different," Raidous observed. Genma nodded, face serious as he reached for a senbon to pop into his mouth.
"Not just that he's older, either," Genma added. There was a soft greeting from the bathroom, and they paused to listen to the indistinct murmur of words. One voice pitched childishly high. Kakashi listened until someone laughed, then looked back to the table.
"He is a very old twelve," Kakashi observed before pouring himself some sake. Genma's lips tipped up.
"War kids—they're an old anything," Genma chuckled bitterly and elbowed Raidou. "At least I have you to keep me young." Raidou sighed.
"And you to make me twice as old for every year," The man groused with a forlorn look. It didn't sit well with the twist of the scar on his face, and Genma laughed. Kakashi had always found it slightly painful to be around these two. They had been friends for years, and you could see it in their easy companionship. Their friendship was old and worn, like a good book or favorite corner of a chair or bed. Kakashi envied them. He looked at them and wondered if that could have been himself and Obito. What kind of person would he have been if Obito had lived?
Better, he didn't doubt that.
Maybe that was why he let Itachi beat his head against the wall that was Shisui. Maybe that was why he didn't mind wasting time on a volatile, crazed contact they could manage without.
If the little lonely Uchiha heir could find the friend he needed, Kakashi would count it all worth it.