A/N: This is the final chapter! Thank you everyone who's been with me from the start! This is for you. :-)
Another reincarnation story
The news of the Uchiha-Hoshigaki wedding spread like wildfire. Within the first three days, almost all the Clan Leaders of Konohagakure managed to come personally to congratulate the future groom and his parents for their most fortunate match. Though everyone maintained their friendly faces, the whispers about Itachi being pressured grew even loud when the invitations were send, proclaiming the upcoming alliance between Konoha and Kirigakure. As the anticipation for Itachi's wedding brew higher than the final of the exam, people began to doubt the teenager's devotion. Terumi Mei was one such person. She showed up almost every day as if she was afraid the 'bride' might run away.
If Itachi were to run anywhere, it would be towards the Kiri house, attempting to kidnap Kisame. But he didn't run, he sat through one meeting after another, repeating the same well studied phrases over and over again until his back hurt from bowing and his joints stiff from kneeling. Nonetheless, Itachi accepted the countless presents with a gentle smile, thanking them with lavish words. Knowing that this was only a portion of what his wedding was going to be, Itachi thought that he should have eloped.
By the fourth day when individual shinobi of note started showing up, Itachi was seriously considering running away with his headless chicken squad, get married in the moonlight and then get drunk just for the heck of it. Because for every man who came to congratulate him, there were at least two girls crying to his mother about the unfairness of Itachi's treatment. Apparently, having him marry Kisame was a colossal waste of good husband material. As for Mikoto, she didn't agree, but didn't disagree either.
The situation became worse on the fifth day when an entourage of samurai demanded entrance to the Uchiha House, claiming that they too have come to ask for Itachi's hand. If the first son of the Uchiha could be betrothed to another male, so could the samurai have the same honor. They brandished their swords and loudly challenged all of Itachi's suitors. The Uchiha genius was grateful beyond words that Kisame wasn't present to witness those pompous warriors.
Every day after that, Itachi received more and more visitors, all of them asking for his hand in marriage. Apparently, he had kicked down a door for anyone who wanted their private Uchiha. Word was spread that whoever could gain his favor would have the whole Uchiha clan at their disposal. What else could it mean to be married to the future leader of this mighty family? In less than a week, Itachi had made himself the most desired bride in Konoha history.
"I can't believe this is real!" Shisui panted after he chased the latest bunch of suitors out of the Uchiha district. "I thought fangirls were persistent. Now you have armies of Samurai fighting each other to impress you."
"Barbaric demonstration of brute force does not impress me." Itachi scoffed and slammed the door shut behind him and his cousin. "I wish they would just all leave me be."
"What did you expect?" Shisui said, toeing himself out of his shoes for the countless time today. "Your advantage outweighs some pretty noble women. You're young, you're strong and you have a near legendary reputation. Whoever claims you would be protected by the best of the world. Who wouldn't want that kind of power?"
"I'm not a prize!" Itachi hissed. "Besides, the honor of my hand apparently isn't worth that much if those brainless brutes were all their lords sent to court me. Do they not realize that I can kill them all before they drew their swords? If one of them dares to call me a 'fair maiden' again, I can't promise I'll remain civil."
Shisui chuckled. "Should I spread the word?"
"Ah, let's gently remind them who they are dealing with."
Their plotting was interrupted when Mikoto yelled from further inside the house. "Itachi, get over here! I need your help!"
He wiped his face with his hands. Why was this happening to him? According to his Mother, none of Itachi's preparation was thorough enough. Her nagging began one hour after he said goodbye to Kisame and promised to write him letters every day. She approached him with the scroll she just took from him in hand, a brush behind her ears and her hair tied into a knot. With the determination other showed while marching into battle, Mikoto continued her never ending quest to make him want to scream. Apparently, she had found a thousand things he did wrong. Starting from not enough flowers to the wrong kind of Sake, she had a different opinion about just everything. It was almost as if she wanted to plan a whole new wedding, using Itachi's detailed report only as a guideline.
"You better answer, or we're both grounded, again." Shisui laid a hand on his shoulder and sighed sympathetically. "I'll head out and listen around."
"Shisui," Itachi tried not to sound too whiny. "I'd appreciate it if you speak to my father, asking for extra security. I hear there's a group seriously opposing my marriage."
His cousin nodded. "Yeah, old shinobi, those who fought against Kiri in the last war. Can't really blame them, though. For them, Kiri is still the enemy."
Itachi didn't mention that not so long ago, Shisui himself belonged to that faction. "I hear they are gaining support from those I turned away. Please look into it for me."
Shisui bumped his fist with Itachi. "Wouldn't want anyone to disturb my baby cousin's wedding."
"Itachi!" Mikoto yelled again.
Shisui and Itachi both winced. "Better hurry, Itachi."
"Sometimes I wonder who's getting married here," he murmured and dragged himself to his mother's direction, bracing mentally for another long session of 'Katsudon and onigiri are for peasants!' and 'white flowers are for funerals' or 'the cups you chose are too big, do you want to get drunk?' and 'kunai and shuriken aren't proper wedding gifts for your guests!'.
This time, Mikoto Uchiha was sitting at a low table with a list in her hand and many boxes of Kimono behind her. Itachi halted his step, wishing he could just flee or at least make a tactical retreat. He absolutely did not need a whole afternoon trying on all her Kimono. Especially not since he has already decided what he was going to wear.
"But you wore that one at the dinner already," she protested. "It wouldn't do to wear the same Kimono twice before him. Other people might think we don't have more!"
"But I like that one," Itachi argued childishly. "So does Kisame."
"No!" She bluntly refused.
"It's my wedding," Itachi reminded her. "I should be allowed to wear whatever I want."
Mikoto stabbed a kunai through the scroll Itachi gave her the other day. "If I let you have your way, you will be marrying him in the morning and go on a mission in the afternoon. And all of that while you wear your uniform under a random robe. It states here," she looked down to his meticulous writing. "that you have planned just one hour for the ceremony. Another for your friends and family to eat and be done with it before noon? You're lucky I talked to the priests at the shrine on your behalf. They were wise enough not to take any other appointment on that day, otherwise it would be a huge embarrassment for all of us." She snorted. "I can't believe Shisui actually helped you with this. It's what you'll get when you let two boys arrange a wedding."
"We did everything according to protocol," Itachi insisted. "We have enough time for the ceremony, enough food for my guests and then..."
She stopped him with another lifted finger. "This isn't a training session with your subordinates! It's a wedding! Do you even understand the importance of it? The ceremony alone takes up more than a hour. You'll need time for your guests to congratulate you. Receiving gifts and well-wishes is very important for the young couple. At the feast, you'll have to thank your guests by toasting them, one after the other. The Hokage and the elders as well the Daimyo's son will be present. You cannot expect them to finish a meal in ten minutes! Not to mention the bedding ceremony! You're lucky I'm here. You've made absolutely no preparation for that!"
"What bedding ceremony?" Itachi swallowed. He had heard of those and swallowed even harder. "You can't really expect me to fornicate in front of others."
"What other proof will we have that the marriage is consummated?" She shook her head at him as if he was actually stupid. "You're not a virgin girl, thus you don't bleed. You will not carry children, which means unless you have witnesses, there won't be any confirmation that you two are actually husband and wife."
Itachi wanted to bash his head into the table but controlled the impulse. He wouldn't disgrace himself in that way in front of a mother who already think him incompetent. "I'm sure we can forgo that part of the tradition, since Kisame and I are already there."
"Mother, it was the reason I am suspended in the first place," Itachi reminded her. "I'm sure everyone who took interest in my matters is already aware of that. Besides, The Hokage suspended me not only to punish me, but also to allow me to be with Kisame prior to my wedding without violating protocols. We need not pretend that I am innocent."
For a moment, Mikoto looked as if she wanted to argue. But then, very resolutely, she crossed out her words on the list. "Fine, have it your way. Now get undressed." She turned towards the multiple boxes behind her and gestured Itachi closer. "Come here and try these on. They are exceptionally made Kimono handed down in our clan."
"Can't I just wear a haori?"
"Must you argue everything with me?" She asked, exasperated.
"Why must I be the bride?"
She didn't dignify him with a response, but opened the most expensive looking box in front of her. Her hand gently caressed the silk which was as white as the winter snow. With a sigh, she lifted the folded Kimono to admire it in the light. "This is the most prized Kimono in our clan," she exclaimed with a longing sigh. "I wore it when I married your father and your grandmother to your grandfather. The fabric was woven a hundred years ago, but it still remains so soft. What a marvel, this craftsmanship. It was lost in the era of warring states. Legend has it, that this was a gift from the Shodai to our ancestor Uchiha Madara."
"Madara?" Itachi gasped. "Why would he need a bride gown?"
"I don't know," his mother sighed, her eyes traveling over the soft silk.
"Was he married?"
"No, not that I know of. Perhaps it was made for his promised bride, or just for him. White was quite fashionable back then." She waved him closer. "Anyway, I want you to wear it on your wedding day, let his legend reflect upon you."
Itachi could have laughed at the irony. "I'd rather not wear the robe of a traitor."
"He was our ancestor and founder of this village."
"He also betrayed the village and clashed with Shodai-Hokage many times." Itachi recited. He'd die first before he wore Madara's clothes. "Since our clan already has unresolved tension with the village, I think it's best we do not rekindle any rumors of hostility."
She sighed in disappointment. "Perhaps you're right." She put the robe back into the box and started picking up another. Muttering under her breath, she unfolded the next Kimono which looked exactly the same to Itachi. For the remainder of the afternoon, he tried one white robe after the other. When his mother grew tired, Itachi summoned a clone to help him with the complicated attire. In the end, he just closed his eyes and pointed at a random one laid out before him and hoped that his mother wouldn't disagree.
When he crashed into his tatami in his own room, the night was already dark outside. He stayed sprawled out on his floor, glancing up at the moon. It was very cliché, but in that moment he wondered if Kisame was seeing the same. Only a few more days, then Kisame was finally his. Waiting for his wedding had been the most excruciating experience of his life. It wasn't just a slight longing or excitement that he felt a few months ago. It was his heart beating too fast and hands growing sweaty. It was a cringe in his body, a physical pull that kept him awake at night.
After all these weeks, Itachi's teenage body had gotten used to a certain amount of exercise. Without it, he tossed and turned in his bedroll, unable to focus or sleep. Panting too hard, Itachi pulled the letter Kisame had sent him from an envelope under his pillow and read through them again. He kept the parchment close to his face, trying to pick up the scent that marked his partner. He thought of the tender words in Kisame's hand, let them penetrate his thoughts and eventually bring him to release.
Only then could Itachi find rest and dream of better times.
The first thing Itachi learned at breakfast next morning was that every Clan Leader without exception was going to attend his wedding. The son of the Daimyo would bring his wife, his mistress and important members of his household. The entire staff Mizukage had brought as well as some other of Kisame's close colleges would be there, building the bulk of the other groom's guests. In addition to the Uchiha Clan, which of course was invited in its totality, many mentionable shinobi from Konoha had also promised to attend. Itachi at least was pleased to learn that those he considered friends were able to be present. He would be sad if the headless chicken squad couldn't be complete.
What surprised him though was that Fugaku had given orders to prepare a secondary feast outside the Nakano Shrine for all those who weren't fortunate enough to be invited by name. If Itachi didn't know better, he would guess that his father wanted the whole of Konoha to witness the rebirth of the Uchiha Clan so none may forget this historic day.
"Nii-san?" Sasuke asked tenderly from the other side of the breakfast table. "I know you're busy, but can you still come train us after school today?"
"Sasuke," their mother scolded. "Itachi has a wedding to prepare for."
"I know," the little boy pouted. "It's just that Nii-san promised it. I thought maybe Nii-san still has time before he gets married."
"You promised him, huh?" Fugaku chuckled from behind his newspapers. "What have you been teaching him?"
"Nii-san taught me Goukakyuu no Jutsu and Naruto Bunshin no Jutsu last time." He reported happily. "He said he'll show us Shuriken Jutsu the next time."
"Naruto? You're training the fox kid as well?" There was a certain wary tone in Fugaku's voice that alarmed Itachi. "To what end?"
"I merely think that he needs help," Itachi replied. "Naruto-kun doesn't have anyone and lives completely isolated. Many in the village shun him, only Sasuke was brave enough to befriend him."
"Why do they shun him?" Sasuke asked. "Is it because he's annoying?"
"Because they are narrow minded and can't see through their own fears," Itachi ruffled Sasuke's hair. "I'm glad you're not like them. Naruto didn't do anything wrong, so there's no reason why you can't be his friend. He doesn't have any parents, so you are the closest he has."
"Why doesn't he have parents? What happened to them?" Sasuke looked from from Fugaku to Itachi, slightly confused.
"They were both killed in the Kyuubi attack over eight years ago," Itachi said with a hint of sadness in his voice. "You were too small to remember, but they were great heroes."
The chopsticks in his mother's hand shook slightly as she put it down. She swallowed her food in silence and couldn't meet Itachi's eyes. "That's enough," she whispered, her voice shaking. "This is not a proper subject for breakfast. Sasuke, finish up quickly then go to the academy."
It was after his mother brought Sasuke to the door that Fugaku put down his newspapers. He fixed Itachi with the usual stern glare which Itachi returned. "What was the meaning of this? Do you wish to take control of the Kyuubi? Is the power of the Mangekyou Sharingan not enough for you?"
"I have no such intentions, Father," Itachi said. Of course Fugaku would fear the possibility of Itachi gaining more power. It must be clear by now that should they ever clash, Itachi would have the upper hand. "I just pity the boy that he has neither friends nor family. Sasuke's friendship is all he has."
"I don't mind Sasuke befriending the kyuubi brat," Fugaku retorted. "But you shouldn't spend too much time with him. There are already rumors that we Uchiha controlled the Kyuubi eight years ago, no need to fan the flame."
"A lie Danzou started and ceased to spread two years ago."
"True." His father nodded. "He had always feared us and suspected us."
"With reason, Father." Itachi reminded him.
"Hn, his sudden death does make things easier. But still, the resentment with the village runs deep. Though our relationship has improved, we still can't afford any unkind rumors."
"Some would argue that the Kyuubi is safer in my hands."
"They'll never let us control the Kyuubi."
"Not us, Father, just me." Itachi said.
"Hn, our pipeline to the village, indeed." Fugaku sighed. "Your liaison to Hoshigaki does bring unforeseen benefit to the Clan. Your wedding is an excellent opportunity to convince them that we no longer harbor ill will."
"So the secondary feast was arranged to show everyone that we have nothing to hide. A wise move, Father."
"A small step in the right direction," Fugaku announced and Itachi lifted a brow. "If my son is to become the next Hokage."
"So he told you." Now, it wasn't just a possibility. It was a plan. Good.
"After your meeting with him yesterday, he summoned me." Fugaku nodded. "How long have you known it."
"Not long," Itachi admitted.
"Why keep it to yourself?" his father asked. "If you have told me, many things would be different."
"I didn't want to use it as a condition. Me becoming the Hokage has nothing to do with Kisame. Regardless of my marriage, Hokage-sama's decision would have been the same. I am his best choice." With that, Itachi stood from the table.
"Itachi," his father said with a final tone. "Despite our disagreements, I am very proud of you."
He nodded in gratitude and retreated back out of the kitchen. He was still musing over his father's the sudden change of attitude or what argument the Hokage had when he discovered his mother in the hallway.
"Sorry, Itachi," she said quickly, wiping her tears away. "I just needed a moment."
"Is this about Kushina-san?" He asked, remembering the day she took him to the hospital to see a newborn Naruto. "I'm sorry, I know she was your friend."
"So you remember," Mikoto smiled feebly. "I should have known you wouldn't forget. Is this why you are training her son?"
"Part of it. I also think that Yondaime's legacy should be treated better."
Itachi's reading was interrupted by the sound of pebbles against his window. Why must he always be interrupted when he tried to read Yondaime's scrolls? It was as if Kami didn't want him to learn more about sealing. These scrolls were only on loan to him, brought to the house with the rest of his belonging from Kakashi's apartment. If he didn't hurry and work through them, he might never get his hands on them again.
The pebbles against his window grew more frequent. It was until one of them was aimed precisely at the gap between the glass and the sill that Itachi abandoned his readings. He put the scrolls back into a sealed box and hid them in the lowest drawer of his cabinet.
Shisui grinned up at him when Itachi appeared at his window. "What are you doing here?"
"Come down!" Shisui whispered, pointing towards the two figures behind him. "Kakashi and Tenzou-kun came back today. We're taking you drinking."
"Are you out of your mind?" Itachi hissed back. "I'm getting married tomorrow."
"That's exactly why!" Shisui waved at him again. "Come on, before I wake Sasuke."
Rolling his eyes, Itachi took his wallet from the table, fished out a spare pair of sandals and then jumped out from his window. "Shisui, tonight really isn't the right time for shenanigans."
"We're celebrating the last night of your bachelorhood," Kakashi said from the shadow, not completely able to hide his good mood.
"Oh right," Itachi sighed. "My bachelor party. Your idea I take?"
"It's tradition," Shisui grinned, directing them towards the center of Konoha over rooftops. "Come on, pick up the pace. Don't make me piggyback you."
When they landed at the restaurant half an hour later, a large group of people were already gathered at the entrance. They waved at Shisui, each carrying a bright smile on their faces. Among them, Itachi picked out his current and former teammates, plus several jonin from Konoha he knew to be Shisui's and Kakashi's friends.
"That's a lot of people I don't usually socialize with," he stated to Shisui, staying a step behind his cousin. "Was this really necessary?"
"Stop whining! If I don't make some friends for you, you'll have no friends." His cousin whispered back. He headed towards his guests with his usual grin and greeted them more heartfelt than any other Uchiha could. "Hey guys, thanks for coming. Let's get inside before the Samurai arrive."
The whole way towards their private room, Itachi was being bombarded with congratulations. It seemed everyone wanted to either shake his hand or pat him on the shoulder for this joyous event. The loudest among them was of course Maito Gai, who clutched his hand and ushered a string of exclamations about youth and true love. His last statement was loud enough for the entire restaurant to hear which ended with Gai in tears and Itachi red in the face.
"Thank you, Gai-san," he only said, trying to pull himself away from the spandex wearing man as far as possible. "You can let go of my hand now."
"Itachi-kun," instead of releasing him, Gai put an arm around his shoulder and dragged him closer. "It is inspiring to see someone like you filled with youthful passion to seek out true love! You have opened a whole new door for your fellow shinobi, teaching us all the value of compassion and beauty!"
"Yes, thank you, Gai-san. Please let go of my hand."
"And I also must thank you personally!" Gai exclaimed, pulling Itachi even closer. "You are a good influence on my eternal rival! I must toast you for showing him the way out of darkness! Since he has befriended you, Kakashi became much more social! I'm sure it was because you have taught him that he is not alone and has friends he can rely on! I am so grateful..."
"Gai-san, please," Itachi struggled. "Please don't cry! And please don't..."
That's enough! With a simple substitution, Itachi replaced himself with the closest person at hand which happened to be Shisui. He winced apologetically to his cousin and quickly dodged out of sight before Shisui could do the same to him.
"Gai-san, stop!" Shisui promptly elbowed his fellow jonin.
"What?" Gai looked from Shisui to Itachi who was trying to hide behind his former captain. Once Kakashi noticed the situation, he quickly leaned back, revealing the hiding teenager to Gai's searching eyes. Traitor! "Oh, Itachi-kun, you're really nimble! I didn't even notice you weave signs!"
"You were busy crying manly tears, Gai-san," Shisui reminded him. "Now come inside and sit down."
Within short time, the room was filled to bursting with Shinobi. As secretive a people they were, they could be obnoxiously loud when coming together. Mixing with the peasants, as his father usually described it, none of them cared much for manners. The mood was relaxed, with occasionally a kunai or shuriken flying through the room. As long as no one molded chakra, Itachi wasn't very alarmed.
They said that this was his bachelor party, but soon Itachi suspected that they just needed a reason to come together and drink. When half the food was eaten, a red faced Shisui started toasting him. "To my cousin!" the jonin shouted. "Who so bravely fought for his heart and all that it stands for!"
"To a brave heart!" The kunoichi introduced to Itachi as Mitarashi Anko shouted. Not wanting to disrespect his cousin, Itachi finally picked up his cup and downed the rice wine together with his comrades.
"Also to the lucky bastard!" Ryo lifted his cup and Itachi just knew that something incriminating was coming up. "Who will be making all the samurai burn with envy by snatching the fairest maiden of the Uchiha Clan!"
"I will kill you," Itachi mouthed at his former teammate.
"Hey, I though I am the fairest maiden!" Shisui shouted, putting his cup down for a refill. "Clearly everyone who has eyes can see that I beat Itachi in looks!"
"Shisui-taicho, do you have a mirror at home?" Another Shinobi from Shisui's team shouted over the table.
"Then you should know you're not fair!" Most of the shinobi burst into laughter as Shisui's face blushed.
"And I'm sure Tenzou-san can confirm that you aren't a maiden either!"
Itachi wanted to push his hands to his ears. There were things about Shisui he just didn't want to know.
"Oi, oi!" Kakashi interrupted them. "Civilian child present!"
"Who's a civilian? Get out of here!"
"I will kill you, too." Itachi hissed to his him.
"Did you guys hear that? If we don't stop, Itachi will kill us all!" Kakashi chuckled.
"Then to a beautiful killer!" Saiku said, winking at Itachi.
There must be a conspiracy going on. They were all trying to get him drunk!
"Itachi-kun, I want to toast you too," someone said next to him, her voice filled with sweet venom. Anko pushed herself closer to him, one of her finger trailing down his arm. "I like your new outfit."
"Thank you, Mitarashi-san."
"Call me Anko," she drawled, flipping the mesh on Itachi's sleeve. "Sexy, I like mesh. Let's drink to that."
"To sexy brunettes in mesh, Itachi-kun!" she lifted her cup and kept her eyes on him. Was she just flirting with him or simply drunk?
"Oi, Itachi!" Ryo hollered from the other side of Kakashi. "Stop hogging all the ladies, you're soon a married man!"
"I wasn't!" He protested just as Anko exclaimed. "Such a pity. Wish I could get a bite of you." She gave his sleeve another long glance and returned to drinking with the jonin from Shisui's team. It went like that for another hour where many more toasts were shouted and even more cups downed. If Itachi wasn't careful, he would repeat what had happened on Shisui's birthday.
When the last dish was cleared away, Anko and another one from Shisui's team said their goodbyes. Maito Gai lasted a few cups more, but then too apologized to Itachi for leaving, but not before loudly congratulating him again. By the time only Sake, beer and snacks remained on the table, Shisui was the only one in the room who was not part of ANBU.
"Finally, no more outsiders!" Saiku sighed out loud, relaxing some in his posture. "I hate mixing with jonin. They just don't get us."
Shisui coughed from the corner where he had been whispering with Tenzou almost in his lap. "I'll pretend I didn't hear that."
"Don't listen to him, Shisui-san! I appreciate your presence. You jonin have your uses. Resourceful and good with the ladies." It was Ryo who said that, again seeking female company. "Since we're talking about resourceful, don't you have any other cute cousins you can invite. Preferably the female kind?"
Shisui laughed out loud and waved his hand dismissively. "Mah, my cousins wouldn't want a pig like you, Ryo-san."
"Ouch!" The ANBU placed a hand on his heart. "That hurt. You know, Itachi said the same thing to me once, that you Uchihas have taste. But you picked this blockhead," he pointed at Tenzou, "and Itachi got himself a savage beast."
"Uhh," Shisui flinched and sucked air through his teeth. "Did you just call Itachi's future husband a savage beast?"
"Yeah, I did," Ryo nodded, seemingly very proud of himself. "I have eyes and I saw him. Damn!"
Those who knew Itachi better threw him an alarming look. But the genius only sipped on his wine. "Jealous of his looks, Ryo?"
"Just look at his arms!" The agent exclaimed, making a dirty sound. He lifted his own big arms up in comparison and presented them to Itachi. "Never took you for one to pick the muscular type!"
Grinning to himself, Itachi said. "I do enjoy his arms."
"So what caught your attention?" Saiku leaned in, placing his chin on a hand. "Was it really his muscles?"
"Perhaps the blue skin?" Izamu from Itachi's team asked.
"Or those sharp teeth? That sure is something to look out for," Goto added. "If you know what I mean."
Some of them resolved into laughter, clearly thinking that Itachi didn't understand. If Itachi was sober, he might have let them laugh. But after several cups of Sake, he cleared his throat and said, "truth be told, it was that large sword of his."
Shisui spat his drink all over the table. He coughed, trying not to choke again. "Would you please stop saying things altogether while I'm drinking? I swear, this is the third time you almost killed me!"
"I'm sure he doesn't mean what you think he meant," Tenzou added, padding Shisui's back. "Did you, Itachi?"
"I'll leave it to your interpretation."
"Taicho, you're rubbing off on him!" Saiku laughed. "A few weeks in your apartment and you've turned Itachi into a pervert."
"What have you done to my little innocent cousin, Hatake?"
"He had that in him already," Kakashi defended. "I just help bring it out."
"This sounds so wrong," Shisui whispered, shaking his head in disbelieve. "I propose we change the subject!"
"No deal!" Ryo's palm connected with the table loudly. "We grill him right now! Hey rookies," he turned towards Itachi's team. "anything you want to know about your captain, now's the time!"
"I concur with Shisui," Itachi said quickly, rising up slightly in his seat.
"You're a civilian right now, you have no vote!" Ryo said off-handedly. "So, let's grill Itachi, who's with me?"
Unsurprisingly, almost everyone lifted their hands, the only exceptions being Shisui and Itachi. The kind Saiku who had always been on Itachi's side turned on him, placing multiple cups filled with Sake before him. "If you lie, you drink."
"That defeats the purpose of lying," Itachi snapped, trying not to pout.
"So tell the truth."
"That's..." Itachi hesitated.
"Not in Itachi's nature," Kakashi answered for him, grinning at him mischievously from behind his mask.
"Which is exactly why this is your only chance," Ryo said to Itachi's team. His two rookie teammates Naoki and Takeshi looked as if they wanted to vanish while Izamu and Goto looked as if they stumbled upon a goldmine. Getting ready for the first round, Ryo continued. "Rules, we ask questions that will make him uncomfortable. Itachi tells the truth, or he drinks."
"What's the purpose of this game?" Itachi hissed. "I can't be the only one drinking!"
"Oh, are you suddenly interested in my stories? Was it the muscles?"
"Spare me, please."
"No mercy!" Ryo changed. "I'll take point!"
"Shut up!" Kakashi shoved him aside. "I always take point!"
"Traitor!" Itachi shouted but was completely ignored.
"Mhm, let me think," Kakashi put a finger on his chin. No doubt he was going to ask something that Itachi wouldn't want to answer. "Ah, right! Who tops?"
A loud "ooh" went through the room. Itachi only gasped. "Excuse me?"
"Omitting the truth still counts as lying, correct?" Izamu asked.
"Is this really a question that needs to be answered?" Itachi glowered. "I think it's obvious."
"So you really fucked him already?" Ryo jumped up from his seat, grabbing his face in excitement. "The rumors are true, you are a man-eating monster! This is going to be juicier than I thought!"
"Man-eating monster?" Itachi gasped. He didn't really know why he was so offended. "I've lain with exactly one man in my life! That hardly makes me a monster!"
"Perhaps we shouldn't do this," The kind Takeshi gently suggested, sending apologetic glances at Itachi. The captain thanked him with a nod just as the usually shy Naoki pushed a pint of beer into Takeshi's hand, whispering something about not ever getting a better chance.
"It's my turn!" Ryo was already radiating glee, not being able to sit still. "Details! We need details!"
"How good is he? Does he make you come?"
"What is wrong with you?" Itachi shouted at his former teammate. "Why this sudden interest in my sex-life?"
"You're a bride!" Saiku laughed. "An unchaste bride if I may add."
This was only the second question and Itachi already wanted to disappear. Perhaps he should use some Jutsu to spare himself the humiliation. Kakashi's hand landed on his shoulder while his eyes darkened with insight. "Don't think you can get out of this one. It's tradition to grill the bride."
"I think you just made that up."
"Answer the question, Itachi-chan," Kakashi sing songed. "I deserve to know if my rival in love is capable of satisfying you."
"Kakashi, I'm going to kill you one day!" This time, it was Shisui who shouted that. He pointed his chopsticks at the Copy-nin and made the tactical sign for 'I have the target in my sight.'
Itachi resigned to his fate. "If you really must now, yes, Kisame does satisfy me."
"How many times?" Saiku burst out.
"Does he satisfy you every time or is it just a singular event?" Saiku was giving him a case of dancing eyebrows. "You can't trust the first time! He needs to perform multiple times to count. So, that's my question. How many times?"
"How should I know!" Itachi downed his cup in frustration and slammed it back down on the table. "I lost count!"
Saiku's jaw was on the table while Ryo's was on the floor. They both stared at him in disbelief and then actually applauded him. "You're one lucky bride."
"I'm no one's bride! I'm a groom!" Itachi protested.
"Is he blue everywhere?" came from somewhere down the roll.
"Of course!" What a stupid question!
"Who made the first move?" That question came from Shisui, who tried very hard to hide his curiosity, but couldn't hide anything from Itachi. His tell was that his eyes get even bigger while he battled for control.
Itachi's face was blushed crimson now. This time, he couldn't drink himself out of it if he didn't want to end up on the floor. And no matter which world, the answer was the same. "I did."
Another round of loud "ooh" went through.
"How?" Tenzou's face was somewhere split between astonishment and bemusement.
"I knew of his interest already," Itachi snapped, perhaps slurred. "It wasn't as if I made a bento box and added a shy message."
Ryo fell to the floor with laughter. He held his belly and kicked at Saiku, trying to recover from Itachi's vivid tale. "So did you ever make a bento box for him?"
"Oi, that the hell this is?" Kakashi waved at his teammates. "How did we get from huge blue swords to bento box? What is this, an academy game?"
"So," Izamu continued since it was his turn. "Tell us about that shiny ring on your finger. I noticed that Hoshigaki wears a similar one, what's the story behind it."
Itachi couldn't help but grin down at his hand, the ruby ring sitting proudly on his finger. "After the meeting with the Mizukage, where we got her blessing, he officially proposed to me. A memory I will always cherish."
"Aw, that's cute." Kakashi sighed. "You, rookie Goto, ask something that takes us out of this kindergarten zone!"
"You really are a pervert, Kakashi-san," the big man nodded. "Taicho, sorry about this, but I have to listen to my senior."
"Just ask away," Itachi rolled his eyes.
"What's your biggest turn on?"
Itachi actually never thought about it. But now that his mind was clouded by alcohol and his tongue loose, he chuckled. "I like his arms," he nodded "And I appreciate his stamina. His lips are nice, too. "
"That's more like it!" Saiku toasted him. "The tailed beast without a tail, that amount of chakra sure comes in handy."
"If you only knew," Itachi sighed dreamily and put his chin in his hand.
"No, no, no! Stop!" Shisui was frantically waving his arms at the center. "I can't take it anymore! If Itachi answers one more question about sex, my clan's dignity will never recover!"
"Would you rather I ask you the same questions?" Ryo covered his ears immediately. "No, won't do! Don't want to know these things about Tenzou!"
"But you'd rather scrutinize me?"
"I'm only interested in pretty people."
"Then take Kakashi-Taicho." Itachi nodded towards his friend and picked up another sake cup because he was thirsty.
"Aw, you consider me pretty."
"Your face does have an appealing symmetry."
"Take it and leave, Senpai. This is as far as Itachi will go."
"I think you're pretty, Tenzou-kun." Shisui managed to say, drawing out another bout of laughter. He clung to his boyfriend and actually make some kissing gestures towards the Mokuton-user, which sent shivers down Itachi's spine. That was something he really didn't want to see.
"Oi, answer the question!" Ryo elbowed him. "Only men with big arms" he flexed his arms and kissed his biceps "or lovely ladies as well."
Itachi drank, not to avoid the questions but to add some courage. He carefully avoided the eyes of his cousin and his former captain, knowing that they would see his thoughts. After all, Kisame wasn't the only one he had fantasized about. "I do prefer men with a certain physique," Itachi answered eventually.
"No girls at all?" Saiku gasped. "You're missing out, boy."
"I just never met a woman fierce enough to rouse my interest," Itachi explained. His head was suddenly filled with the image of Konan, probably the only woman who had been his equal. Although they differed in ideology, Itachi had never underestimated her. It was a pity Konoha had so little kunoichi of her caliber.
Thinking of his former teammates from Akatsuki left a melancholy taste in his mouth. He couldn't stop himself from wondering where they were right now or what would happen should they ever attend his wedding. He imagined that Pain probably wouldn't care, though wouldn't disagree either. He could picture Konan and Kakuzu making the preparations, one being sensitive and smart, the other just too good with finance. Itachi wouldn't want Hidan or Deidara anywhere near his celebration, fearing that the Jashinist might get bored and start sacrificing his guests or Deidara insisting on blowing things up he considered ugly. As for Sasori and Zetsu, they could as well be decorations in the corner.
"Itachi?" Shisui gently woke him from his imaginations. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," Itachi answered automatically. "I drank too much. It's better if I go home."
"So soon?" Kakashi asked. "We didn't even get to the bathhouse yet."
"If I take a bath right now, I might faint." Itachi said and put his shoes back on at the door. "Please, you guys stay and drink. I'll see you all at my wedding tomorrow."
"I'll walk you home." Shisui offered.
"I'll come with you," Kakashi said and appeared at his side in the open door. "I heard some of the samurai want to kidnap you. Better not take any chances."
Itachi yawned. "The samurai are no match for me!"
"Who said that?" Someone shouted from down the hall, followed by stomping footsteps of at least four big men. "Who dares to insult us? Stay your name and face me! Let justice be served!"
The sound of a blade unsheathed was all the sign Itachi needed to shock himself out of his drunken state. He instinctively reached for the kunai pouch on his thigh and found nothing. Damn his civilian status. But not carrying any weapon doesn't mean he was unarmed. He was Uchiha Itachi, he didn't need any weapons to beat some second rate samurai.
"Lower your weapons!" Kakashi barked, a kunai glistening in his hand. "Don't you know where you are?"
"Who dares to boast our better?" the leader of the group barked, clearly drunk. "Let him face me and we shall see."
Shisui huffed. "No one's going to face you, now put away your sword before you hurt anyone."
"Coward!" a second samurai spat. "Uchiha, your master has shamed our lord by refusing him, we shall have satisfaction now!"
"You must be kidding!" Shisui exclaimed. "But fine, if you want to fight, I'm going to show you the power of the Uchiha."
"Wait, Shisui," Itachi said. He came between his two friends and stared at the four samurai before him. "Let's not escalate the situation."
"Itachi-kun," the samurai leader inclined his head. "I meant no disrespect. Yet I cannot let the speaker of that remark go unpunished. Thus, I must demand you discipline your subordinate for such boldness."
"You overestimate your position, Samurai," Itachi reminded him. "You cannot make demands of me. Besides, it was not Shisui who said that, it was me."
"You, Itachi-kun? Your words tease me, inflames my deep desire of you even more." The leader exclaimed, grinning wildly. "It is fate that we meet on the eve of your wedding, giving us the renewed occasion to confess our loves. Please, accept my hand, Itachi-kun. Return with me to my palace where a life full of riches and pleasure awaits you. None of your wish shall remain unfulfilled for the fairest maiden in Konoha shall belong to me, Umesawa Haroda."
"Uh oh," Shisui gasped and Itachi's hand clenched.
"Get out of my sight!" He barked.
"Oh, Itachi-kun, such fire! Such passion!"
"You better listen to him, Umesawa." Kakashi advised.
"My resolve shall not be moved." the samurai boasted, his cheeks red from wine and excitement. "Itachi-kun, hear the words of my heart. My love for you is stronger than that of the Monster. He is a brute unfit for your noble self, realize that. Refuse that peasant and shake off his empty promises. By my honor..."
"Enough!" Itachi's voice was firm, deep and full of power. His actions were enforced by the presence he released, alarming all the other shinobi patrons around. "Do not speak ill of my beloved! He is more man than you can ever be, Samurai! Do not address me again, Umesawa Haroda! Now remove yourselves while I allow it."
"You dare speak to our lord in disrespect, Shinobi!" one of his henchmen barked.
"Lord Umesawa, let me teach this brat a lesson in your name."
"Come," Itachi said, his eyes spinning. "Let me show you why they call me the Master."
"No!" Umesawa lifted a hand. With clenched teeth and staring eyes, he inclined his head towards Itachi. Without another word, he lead his men away from the angry teenager and disappeared back into their private room.
"Puh, that was intense," Kakashi sighed out. "Didn't need to rouse your chakra that much."
"Pompous samurai!" Shisui hissed. "Come on, Itachi. I'll walk you home."
Sometimes Itachi believed that the universe was against him.
He wondered if the gods delighted in playing with him. It was as if every time he entered an unknown circumstance, the deity of heaven cast their dices to determine the outcome. Their favorite tactic must be to direct the situation towards escalation and see how the Uchiha genius would react. That, or Shisui was masterful in manipulation and took great pleasure in seeing him suffer.
"I am not wearing that!" Itachi hissed as two of his mother's clones immobilized him while the real one forced a bridal veil on his head. "It's bad enough that I have to be the bride, I will not wear that. This is my last world!"
"Don't be unreasonable, Itachi." Mikoto snapped, her two clones each held one side of his head firmly in his grasp.
Shisui broke down next to them, rolling on the floor while laughing with tears. He tried to help when he arrived, but now his annoying cousin had just given up. He wiped the tears from his eyes and grinned up at Itachi. "But you look so pretty in it. I might want to marry you myself."
"If you're not going to be helpful, Shisui-kun," Mikoto said, still adjusting the silk veil on Itachi's head, "you might as well leave. I don't need you here to encourage Itachi in his antics. Now be a good child and don't throw a tantrum before your own wedding."
"It's not a tantrum!" Itachi snapped, finally freeing himself from his mother's clutches. "I just don't think this is necessary! A bridal veil is to represent..."
"Hush now! It's tradition!"
"It's a stupid tradition. I am a man, not some girl," he muttered, glaring at himself in the mirror. His reflection disagreed. Wrapped in a snow white Kimono which looked just like Madara's and with that hideous veil on his head, he might as well be a maiden bride. If he wasn't so displeased by his own feminine attire, he might consider the woman in the mirror pretty.
Itachi's hand went up invulnerability to touch his black hair under the veil. He was trying to pull at least one bang free when his mother charged at him and slapped his hand away. "Stop that!" she shrieked. "Do you know how much time it takes to finish that hair-do?"
"I'm aware, I sat through it." Itachi retorted dryly. He touched the stupid veil on his head and scoffed. "What the hell is this veil? I look like a mooncake!"
"Oh, don't be like this. You look beautiful!"
"Mother, why do you insist on making me a daughter?"
"I could have spared you if you actually gave me a daughter-in-law. But since you chose a take a husband instead, you'll have to fulfill my dream of dressing a bride." He gently slapped his cheek. "Now sit down, have a tea and calm your nerves. I'll be back when it's time."
Itachi rolled his eyes. He didn't need to calm his nerves, he needed to get this over with and get rid of this restricting robe. As if reading his mind, Mikoto turned to Shisui. "Make sure he doesn't tear anything down. Or I'll make you personally responsible." With that, the matriarch left them alone.
Itachi groaned loudly and accepted the tea from Shisui. "This is absolutely ridiculous! I can hardly move in this!"
"It's a kimono, it's supposed to be like that."
"I pity them," he cursed and leaned against the wall. He didn't want to kneel because getting up with miles of silk wrapped around him wasn't as easy as he imagined. "The price noble ladies pay for the illusion of elegance."
"I thought you'd be used to this, considering Ametake, you know?"
Itachi huffed and shook his head. "I wasn't wearing all the layers."
"What, a Maiko without proper attire? Scandalous!"
Itachi chuckled at his cousin's acted outrage. "I had to keep my weapons somewhere."
"You better not be hiding a pouch under that Kimono. When Aunt Mikoto finds out, she'll kill us both."
"Even if I wanted to, I couldn't fit one paper bomb under all this!" Itachi said, walking around in the room, trying to loosen his stiff joints. "I swear, Shisui, I can't find some of my body parts under all this. And this stupid veil, I have no peripheral vision whatsoever! And this damn Obi, I feel like I'm dragging a whole futon around!"
"Stop, Itachi!" Shisui ordered, coming closer to put a hand on his shoulder. "You're stressing yourself. For today, stop thinking like a shinobi. Think like a bride. Or groom."
"How can I?" Itachi shook his head. "Being a shinobi is all that I know."
"Perhaps it's time to learn to be more," Shisui reminded him and bowed down slightly to look him in the eyes. "You are the most beautiful Uchiha bride in history. Today, you are a hero who fought for truth and love. A symbol of peace. That's what you are. And you are my adorable little cousin, I won't let you call yourself stupid or hideous."
"That's an awful lot to be."
"But you can do it, you are Uchiha Itachi."
"Thank you for your encouragement," Itachi nodded, trying to accept the reality of the day. "What would I do without you?"
"I should have, shouldn't I?"
"Then we'd both be dead men." Shisui elbowed him. "Even if we aren't branded Nuke-nin, your mother will personally take our heads."
A knock on the door interrupted their intimate moment. "Nii-san," Sasuke pushed the door open and gaped. "You're so pretty, Nii-san."
"Thank you, Sasuke." Itachi grinned and approached his brother as fast as his kimono allowed. "Did mother send you?"
"Why are you walking so funny?"
Shisui pressed a hand to his mouth to smother the laugh. "Wait until your wedding then you'll understand."
Itachi elbowed his cousin on his way out. "Come on, Sasuke. Time for my wedding."
Itachi had never seen so many people at the shrine before when he arrived half an hour later. From the special room prepared for the bride, Itachi could count at least 300 hundred people lined up on both sides of the courtyard. Among the Clan Leaders and guests, the son of their Daimyo and his wife stood out like a sore thumb. They tried to hide their unease, but failed miserably under the sharp eyes of the shinobi.
Itachi observed from his window how Hokage-sama involved him in a short conversation, giving the poor man some much needed distraction. The two men were joined by Itachi's father and the Mizukage, building the center of power in today's game. For another agonizing ten minutes as he waited for his father to return and finally leading him down the aisle, Itachi distracted himself with counting the security detail.
From what he could see, at least three teams from the Uchiha Police were positioned around the shrine's inner courtyard. Two ANBU teams were patrolling the rooftops, with perhaps more uninvited jonin guarding the rest of the village. With the son of the Fire Daimyo present, Konoha could not afford any lack of vigilance.
"Itachi, are you ready?" His father asked when he returned from his brief reception. "It's about time."
"Finally!" He gasped and took up position behind his patriarch.
It was strange. When he waited in the side room, he was calm as his exterior suggested. But as soon as his took the first step out of the room and into the light, his little heart beat with a force that almost took his breath away. Lowering his head to hide the expression, Itachi finally understood why brides walked facing the floor. He felt his cheeks darken with a blush as the musicians started the song that every woman dreamed to hear.
Taking a deep breath, Itachi lifted his eyes towards the coming group led by the Mizukage. He almost choked on hair when his eyes landed on the biggest man in the group, a man whose sight always made his heart flutter. He felt tears coming to his eyes and trembling breath escaping his lips. He tried to smile at his beloved, but managed probably just a grimace.
The Uchiha Patriarch shook hands with the Mizukage who looked more proud than Mikoto herself. They turned, leading their respective family towards the altar, allowing Itachi to be within Kisame's reach for the first time in ten days.
"Nice to see you, Itachi-san," Kisame whispered as soon as they were in speaking distance. "I must say, you look very charming today. White suits you."
Itachi tried not to chuckle. "I don't think I've ever seen you so respectable."
"I try," the bigger man replied, his eyes directed ahead.
Itachi struggled with control. He wanted look up at his partner and undress Kisame with his eyes. Whoever called him a monster before would not do so today. Dressed in the traditional dark blue robes of the Mist, Kisame appeared more a god than man. He looked like those divine beings risen from the sea to conquer the hearts of any women they encountered. Itachi was not an exception.
"I missed you," Kisame whispered when they arrived at the alter. "I didn't know ten days could feel that long."
"Without your letters, I might have been foolish."
"To seek me out?" Kisame licked his lips. "I would have liked that."
"Behave, both of you!" Mikoto hissed from behind them.
Itachi's cheeks darkened even more. Right now, he was more than grateful for the veil because it hid so much from the gathered guests. In front of them, the priest waved with his long sleeves in a ritualistic pattern. Raising his voice, he inquired, "Who brings them to my shrine to be tied in the sacred bond of marriage?"
"It is I," Itachi's father answered. "Uchiha Fugaku. I bring my son Uchiha Itachi to the altar, to be wed in front of the gods."
"And I, Terumi Mei. I bring my brother Hoshigaki Kisame to the altar, to be wed in front of the gods."
"So you're adopted?" Itachi whispered as the priest continued with a long series of questions and vows from the 'parents'.
"Brother of the Mizukage sounds better. Worthy of you."
"Hm," Itachi mused. "The reason behind it?"
"Oh well," Kisame almost shrugged. "Some people reminded me of my lack of a linage. Mei was kind enough."
"That would make any attempt at flirtation between you two awkward, wouldn't it?"
"You have no reason to be jealous." The bigger man chuckled. "It's rather I who needs to worry. My rivals in love increased by a ten fold within the week."
"Hn, I have every confidence in you to win every challenge."
"That goes without saying." Kisame sounded smug.
"Would you two stop?" Mikoto sounded almost angry. "Save it for the honeymoon. It's your turn."
Following the priest's instruction, Fugaku and Mei both retreated to the side, allowing Kisame and Itachi to step forward. They bowed before the man and exchanged one brief look. It wasn't just to see the other's expression, but a hold onto the promise they have given each other.
"By the gods, I shall cleanse you of impurity," the priest started and Itachi suppressed a yawn.
"Long night?" Kisame whispered barely audible while the priest and his apprentices started the long and boring ritual of cleansing the couple of the forces of evil.
"I couldn't sleep."
"Too much wine?"
"How did you know?"
"Oh, I heard how you defended my honor," Kisame chuckled. "Really, Itachi-san, you shouldn't have."
"Perhaps you shouldn't have killed that other samurai." he hissed back. "What exactly happened with Minamoto?"
"I did what needed to be done," Kisame lowered his head further as the Priest sprinkled some holy water on his hair. "He challenged me."
Itachi grinned and lowered his head when the priest did the same to him. "And you killed him in proper duel. Too bad I wasn't there to watch."
For the remainder of the ritual, they whispered like schoolchildren under the stern gaze of their parents. Itachi could tell simply from the aura his mother was extruding that she would scold him later. Her gaze said that he should be ashamed of himself for behaving in such immature way in front of his gods. But he just couldn't help himself when Kisame entertained him with his gallant tales.
After thirty minutes, the ritual was finally over. They were asked to step out of the shrine where everyone could behold the newly cleaned couple. While they bowed before their parents and the guests, the apprentices of the priest finished the preparation to the most important part of the ceremony.
Itachi watched the three times three cups being laid out before him and felt his heart flutter. His mouth was dry when the Sake was poured into those cups. He trembled when the priest approached them, lifting both his hands towards the heaven. "Now shall these two be joined in marriage. Whoever oppose their bond, may he speak now or be silent forever."
Itachi counted the seconds the priest needed to wait. He closed his eyes and prayed and prayed that no one would raise their voice. Please Kami-sama, please let them be silent! Please let me marry this man. He counted to three and sighed out in relief when an uproar interrupted his prayers.
He whirled around when a man shouted in his deep voice. "I oppose them!" Umesawa shouted, one hand on the handle of his sword.
The priest was stunned for a moment. He looked from Itachi to Fugaku, then regained somewhat balanced composure. "On what ground do you disagree?"
"The honor of marrying Itachi-kun should be mine!" The samurai stepped out of the crowd, closely followed by his three henchmen. "For true love cannot be denied, I shall challenge Hoshigaki for the hand of my most beloved."
Itachi wanted to roll his eyes and slap his forehead. How many times must he refuse this Umesawa until he understood that Itachi didn't want him. But it was Fugaku who raised his voice, his brow furrowed in anger. "Shisui, remove this man! We will not suffer this indignity!"
"It is my right!" The Samurai demanded. "As a Samurai, I challenge Hoshigaki to a duel of honor! Should I win, he must relinquish all claims to Itachi-kun for he is unworthy of the bride. What say you, Hoshigaki. Are you man enough to face me?"
Kisame tilted his head while the amused smirk on his face grew into a grin. "You're asking for death, Umesawa-san. You cannot win against me."
"Kisame," Itachi snapped. "Do not bother. I have no intention to be fought over on my own wedding day."
"Itachi-san, this man spoke out an honest challenge. I can hardly refuse."
He lowered his voice. "It's not that simple."
"What now, Hoshigaki? Scared?"
"Hn," Kisame stepped down from the altar. "I'll make this quick."
"Wait!" Itachi said, sounding more like a captain than a bride. To his mother's dismay, Itachi removed the huge white veil from his head and promptly placed it in Kisame's hands. "Hold this, Anata. I'll take care of him myself."
The gathered crowd which had been stunned silent suddenly roared. The Daimyo's son gasped loudly while his wife fought with unconsciousness. On the contrast, the shinobi of their village cheered, some of them even whistles.
"Yes, show him, Captain!" Izamu shouted from behind his Hyuuga Hiashi who silenced him with a glare.
"Itachi-kun," the Samurai hesitated. "That's most unorthodox."
"Why?" the genius asked, stepping down from his place at the altar. "Because I am the bride? Should I remind you who I am? I am the heir of the Uchiha Clan, proud shinobi of Konoha. I'm not a girl nor a maiden to be fought over. If you want my hand, prove yourself my equal. Otherwise, step aside."
"That's not how it's done..." The Samurai looked to the Daimyo's son then back to Itachi. "I can hardly kill the bride I wish to wed."
"If you can draw blood, I'll marry you." Itachi said.
Kakashi whistled and some of his comrades cheered. The Daimyo quickly bowed down to whisper to the Hokage as his wife finally fainted. From behind him, Mei was leaning into Kisame. "Aren't you going to do anything?"
Kisame shrugged, still holding Itachi's wedding veil. "If Itachi-san wants to fight, I'd be a fool to stop him."
"Uhm, Hoshigaki-san," the son of the Daimyo addressed him and rose from his seat. "are you aware of this bargain. Should Umesawa win, Uchiha Itachi is no longer your bride."
Kisame bowed. "Itachi-san will not lose."
"Oh my, such confidence." He fanned himself quickly. "Well, if all parties agree, I shall be the judge. Itachi-kun, do you promise to uphold your vow. Should Umesawa draw blood, you will have to marry him."
"I do, your lordship."
"I must say, I have attended some weddings in my life. I've seen grooms demonstrate courage, but I never encountered a bride fighting for herself." He said as if this was the most exciting thing he had ever seen. "Itachi-kun is something else. But to make it fair, we will agree to a duel of swords. Please continue. We wish to see the outcome."
Now that the Daimyo's representative had spoken, Umesawa was trapped. He bowed low before his lord and returned to console with his henchmen. Out of nowhere, Kakashi appeared at his side with a sword in his hands. Bowing down towards him, he acted as if giving Itachi some advice. "Please don't win before at least three rounds."
Shisui flickered to his side as Tenzou pushed himself out of the crowd and Kisame descended from the steps. "Hatake, what's that suppose to mean? Itachi can finish him in one move." HIs cousin asked.
"That's what everybody is betting on." Tenzou explained, one hand on Shisui's arm.
"You're taking wagers?" Itachi took his sword from Kakashi.
"I'd be happy to share it with you." Kakashi said then shrugged at Shisui. "What, everybody is doing that!"
"Itachi-san, we can actually use the money."
Rolling his eyes. "Fine, I'll indulge you. I stay on the defensive until you signal me. Can't do much in this outfit anyway."
He unsheathed his sword and gestured for his friends to stay back. In proper manner for a honorable duel, Itachi bowed before his opponent. In any other fight, he might have taken a minute to size up his challenger, but here, all Itachi's focus was on moving in a restricting dress without tripping. When the Daimyo clapped his hands together, the Samurai charged.
His first strike came in a overhead position, which Itachi parried expertly. He stepped out of the way when Umesawa came up with a lower cut, aimed at his thigh. As he turned to avoid the third strike, Itachi felt his robe connect with the sharp blade. The gasps of his mother was muffled by the sound of his own heartbeat. Umesawa was better than he thought. Grinning almost triumphantly, the samurai fixed Itachi with eyes dark with desire.
Like a dance of leaves in autumn wind, they charged at each other, their blades catching the light of the sun. In the last moment, Itachi bend backwards, letting his body slide under the blade of the Samurai. He felt his obi connect with the floor, the sound of silk dragging over stone. When he came up with more exertion than such simple maneuver normally demanded, the blade of the Samurai was right there to meet his, sending sparks between them.
That was too close.
"Why do you not attack, Itachi-kun?" Umesawa shouted when he took position several feet away. "Please do not disrespect me by holding back."
That was five turns, Itachi counted. His eyes moved towards Kakashi who only gently nodded. "My bad!" In a flourish of white silk and thin air, Itachi charged at his opponent. When he fought, truly fought, the restriction of his robe was forgotten. He saw his opponent, his movements and the intentions in his eyes. When he attacked, Itachi was merciless.
His blade met Umesawa's with crushing strength. He lunged at the much bigger man, the tip of his sword reaching for the man's eyes ever closer. Umesawa managed to hold his own for exactly two strikes before Itachi's prowess overwhelmed him. With a final blow, the Uchiha knocked the sword out of the Samurai's hand, sending it flying back towards his henchmen. When the masterly forged weapon lodged itself in the ground just one foot in front of Umesawa's second in command, Itachi's blade rested sure on the lord's throat.
"It's over." Itachi said, his dark eye piercing through the Samurai.
Umesawa's mouth hang open, his eyes jumping from the blade at his throat than to Itachi. "Finish me," he said, "I will not stop my pursuit if you spare me. Honor dictates it."
Slowly, the genius drew his blade over the man's skin, drawing just the tiniest bit of blood. "There's your defeat. It's all you'll get from me."
Itachi swung his sword, but not at the man. With expert skill, his loyal blade disappeared in the sheath in his left hand. He stepped back and inclined his head towards the Samurai, showing him the proper respect. "Consider yourself fortunate that I was dissuaded from using ninjutsu. Next time, think wisely on whose wedding you're interrupting!"
Itachi left the beaten man behind who he fell to his knees. Within two steps, all of Itachi's sides were taken by members of his family, each fussing over him in their own way. Sasuke hugged his legs, exclaiming admiration. Mikoto was concerned about his ruined robe while forcing the bridal veil back onto his head. Shisui dutifully took the sword from his hand as his father nodded at him, thanking him for the demonstration of Uchiha might.
"That was awful close, Itachi-san," Kisame stated when Itachi reclaimed his position. Together, they watched as Umesawa and his henchmen were escorted out of the courtyard by the members of Uchiha Police.
"Damn this Kimono." Itachi hissed. "If you don't mind, let's get married."
Itachi's hands trembled when he drank the wine. He tried to swallow his tears. But they came and fell from his cheeks. His voice was shaking, filled with the pain and suffering he had endured for too long. He gazed up to meet Kisame's eyes, golden like the ring on his finger. He took Kisame's hands into his and held on for dear life. He would never let them go ever again. He would not live one other day without this man.
"I, Uchiha Itachi," he said almost feebly. "marry this man, Hoshigaki Kisame."
"I, Hoshigaki Kisame, marry this man, Uchiha Itachi."
"No matter in health or sickness,"
"No matter in health or sickness,"
"This person I will love, this person I will respect, I will console, I will support,"
"This person I will love, this person I will respect, I will console, I will support,"
"Protecting fidelity, until death, I will be his partner."
"Protecting fidelity, until death, I will be his partner."
Itachi swallowed and blinked tears out of his eyes. "This, I promise."
Kisame sighed out, his breath no less heartfelt. "This, I promise."
The priest performed a series of movement to complete the ritual. He lifted both hands again towards the heaven and chanted. "From this day, you shall be joined in marriage. Blessed be your bond by the gods and men."
It wasn't custom, but Itachi just couldn't stop himself. He met Kisame's lips in the middle, their arms tangled in each other. He felt his own tears mix with Kisame's. This was their first kiss as husbands. It shouldn't feel different than all the others he had shared with his partner, but it did. It felt so much better, so much richer and so much more perfect.
Because from this day on, Uchiha Itachi and Hoshigaki Kisame would forever be partners.
I hope you liked it.
This is the first story I've been working on for a long period of time. And what a time it is! Thank you all so much. It'll be very hard to walk away from this baby.
Also, sadly FF doesn't let me post any links, so I'll have to tell you. There are 11 artworks for this story, each for a different chapter. If you want to see them, go to HeavenOnFire on tumblr or gratuacuun . tumblr . com :-)
Thank you so much! And see you soon with my next KisaIta story. (pst: it's done, just need to draw the art and edit it. :-D)