Responding to (forced into) a challenge fic issued by Hyuuga-Neji and Lalatothepowerof2 at two o'clock in the morning and finished two and a half hours later while exhausted and uninspired. They said I have to write either this, or a Shika/Saku. God only knows why I picked this. Blame them. I hope it isn't too out of character but this was really a hard challenge.

(…And ONE Kisame fan raises their arms in triumph)

Hoshigake Kisame accepted the fact that he did have the appearance of being half shark; because he intended it that way. But it wasn't fair for people to assume he'd always looked like that, and he did not hesitate to kill anyone who asked which of his parents was the fish.

He did NOT, despite popular belief, EAT his victims. That was ridiculous. His esophagus wasn't nearly big enough to do that, and they didn't taste any good anyhow. But this was a rumor he would never live down, and no matter how many people had to die in an attempt to quench it, someone else would always ask. You eat one guy ONE time, just to prove a point… and you have a label forever.

And he did so have eyelids. He just didn't blink all that often.

The fact of the matter was, when he decided to sacrifice everything he had in the search for more power, that included sacrificing his personal appearance. The aquatic traits were a result of many permanent and very dangerous secret techniques, and some surgery (mostly around the mouth). He did it to give himself an edge over the other ninjas from the village of mist who did not have gills, and it gave him an advantage with water based jutsus. Also, it gave him a more intimidating look, he rather liked to think. After all, who wasn't intimidated by a big walking shark?

While sometimes it was easy to get lost in his reputation of being an oceanic predator, he never forgot the fact that he was a young man once. He could at one time fit in with a crowd, he could and would do things that young men liked to do; like joke with his friends (he used to have a few of those), have meaningless competitions in good fun, and look at girls.

The latter was something he especially hadn't done in a very long time. Since letting power corrupt his heart, he hadn't had time for frivolous things like women. His work with the Akatsuki kept him much too busy, and besides, Itachi looked like he was all but ready to kill the next woman to approach him while they were trying to enjoy dinner.

And that was fine, because women never looked his way, anyhow. Or they did, but it was more a look of shock and/or terror, as opposed to the more interested, appreciative looks they gave his partner.

Most times, those Akatsuki issued cloaks and hats were a blessing. People would stare otherwise; at one of them or the other.

(It was just that those damn things were so freakin' hot. And itchy, on the warmer days.)

Kisame hadn't changed his looks to be more popular. He did it for power. And only once, only once, did he regret it.

It had been his first time in Konoha, in Itachi's hometown. They were there on a mission; retrieve the vessel of the Kyuubi, which turned out (to his disappointment) to be a loudmouthed little blonde boy.

As expected, it wasn't as easy as it sounded initially in the mission briefing. They were recognized, and had a number of fights with skilled jounin and even a Sannin before they were able to escape, empty handed.

But, oh, the fun they had! Those fights had very much been worth the trip. Itachi probably could have fared better; he was forced to use his Magekyou Sharingan which used up too much of his chakra, but man, you should have seen the other guy. Kisame had been on the receiving end of one of those once, and he didn't envy that poor bastard.

There was also this freak in a leotard, and a guy who probably thought he was all badass with that cigarette, but Kisame knew that if he didn't kill 'im today, he'd probably die later of cancer.

And then there was a woman. This, actually, surprised him a little. He had very rarely had the opportunity to fight skilled kunoichi; they were, unfortunately, rather uncommon.

And she wasn't just skilled. She was also fairly easy on the eyes. And for Kisame, who hadn't had the slightest interest in a woman in years, that was something of interest.

She had all this raven black hair; and Kisame remembered then, that he used to like black hair on his girlfriends. She wore some makeup, not too much, and had a rather shapely figure. She was quick and fierce, and best of all, she wanted to kill Itachi. Her eyes were red, perhaps some distant relative to the Uchiha? They suggested that she was an illusionist of me kind, and he was right. The woman had tried to trap Itachi in some sort of genjutsu, but sadly, that just can't be done to Itachi. She would have had a much better chance if she'd tried it on Kisame.

He would have liked to see her try. He would have liked to fight her a little bit longer, would have liked to see the illusion she had tried to ensnare Itachi with. He would have liked to see her at her fullest power; he would have liked to see her come at him with intent to kill. He would have liked to see her exhausted and desperate as she tried to summon the last of her power on one last final, fatal attack and he would have liked to see the look on her face as he benevolently left her alive after deflecting her final blow. He would have liked to have this fight alone. He would have liked to see on her bright red lips the lightest traces of a smile.

Somebody in that fight said her name. What was it… Kurenai?

Yeah. It was Kurenai.

But, of course, all that just wasn't meant to be. Instead, he fought the freak in a leotard who kicked him in the head and royally pissed him off, but lived to tell about it. Man, was that guy gonna get it someday. The cancer guy cut his face right under his gill with some trick blade, but on the plus side, he did at least get to grab Kurenai's ankles.

They had to run shortly after that, but it wasn't too much longer until they finally found the Kyuubi's vessel that they were there for. That fight wasn't nearly as entertaining since they were summoned into a frog's mouth, but he did get to threaten a little boy with his Samehada. The kid was being squirmy, so he asked Itachi if he should shave the kid's legs.

Later, he realized how weird that sounded when said aloud and swore to think next time before he spoke.

When the fight ended in failure again due to the actions of a Sannin and the unexplained appearance of Itachi's kid brother, whose apparently all freaky in the head now (Kisame didn't blame him), they were forced to retreat again. That night, they were too tired to camp out, so instead of trying to hide in the shadows they got a hotel room.

Not from the hotel they had just fought in. They didn't want to have to pay for that hole they added to the wall.

They mostly stayed in separate rooms and that night was no exception, but for Hoshigake Kisame, the half shark, with his blue skin, yellow eyes and filed sharp teeth, who was all powerful, frightening, and legendary in his home country… it wasn't a good night to be alone. He could of course never express this to Itachi, the Uchiha would waste no time requesting a new partner from the Akatsuki, after possibly giving Kisame a three day vacation in Hell on the Magekyou Express, and besides, he had an image to maintain.

So instead, he pulled on a cloak and hat- not the Akatsuki cloak at hat, people were looking for those now- and leaving his Samehada behind, went to Konoha.

He didn't know what compelled him to go all the way to the most dangerous place he could possibly be while unarmed and alone at night. Not until he found himself on the bridge where he had fought those jounin. He stopped and looked around, observing the peaceful tranquility of the river at night, wondering how his footsteps had brought him here unthinkingly.

And then he smiled to himself as he realized how very stupid he was. Had he been expecting to see her?

He wanted to convince himself that he did not want to run into her, that it would be a disaster; but he knew, somewhere in his black and corrupted heart, that there was still a young man in there who knew how to appreciate a fine looking woman. She had been the first one to draw his attention in years, and he had forgotten what it was like. He wanted to keep that feeling for a little while longer, keep that feeling of wanting to see someone, to touch someone, before it was lost again, possibly forever. He had almost dared himself to go and seek her out; but he did not know anything other than her first name. It was really probably better that way. What would he do if he did see her, anyway? They would only fight, and then she would probably die.

There were very few people in the world Kisame didn't want to see dead, so he decided to keep the newest addition to that list unharmed. He would just leave with the memories he had of their very brief encounter. After all, who wanted to date a shark?

And so he left the bridge, and hiding in the shadows of the night, began to journey back to the town he and Itachi were staying at. He passed only a few people and ignored them totally; and only occasionally did he feel there was enough of a crowd that he actually had to hide himself until it dispersed, for fear that someone may be looking for him, or perhaps just looking for suspicious figures.

It was during one of these rare moments, where he stood silent and still in the shadows of an alleyway, did the one thing he wanted most and least to happen actually happen. There she was.

He had so expected not to see her tonight, that it would have been less of a shock to see Orochimaru strolling down the street. Kisame stared, absolutely amazed that he had run into her after all. She did not see him as she passed, even when he visibly moved to watch her go, to make sure it wasn't some trick his mind was playing on him, to see if it wasn't some girl that resembled her.

That mass of wild black hair, the light makeup, those heavenly curves, and most noteworthy, those red eyes. God forbid. It was her. And she was smiling, laughing, talking. Who was it she was talking to, there?

And then he noticed who it was. It was that cancer guy with the trick blades. She was laughing and smiling as she strolled down the street with him.

Had Kisame somehow convinced himself a gorgeous girl like that would be unattached? Of course she was dating someone, and logically, why not Ashbreath? How stupid he had been, not even thinking that there might be a boyfriend in the equation! The missing nin shook his head, laughing at himself for his own foolishness.

Fine, then. He saw her. And now it was done. He could focus on missions now, and forget such stupid thoughts had ever passed through his brain. He was a killer, and that was all, that was it. He had his moment of humanity, and now it was time to remember his purpose. It was all over, now that he had finally seen her smile.

He sped through Konoha back towards his hotel, and put the whole thing behind him. Women were just not worth the effort.