In most cases, a teenager's biological clock would need them to wake up at ten every morning to achieve their highest performance. Itachi had learned this bit of information during the brief period he had spent in Konoha's ninja academy, and he distinctly remembered his parents stressing the fact after he became one of the youngest ANBU captains the Leaf had ever boasted. He supposed that he agreed with it. After all, when an opponent is not receiving a sufficient amount of sleep it is usually painfully obvious. Yet, as the alarm clock beside Itachi's motel room bed went off, the numbers clearly blinked 5:30 in insistently bright red numbers.

Itachi obediently obeyed the continuous beeping, hearing Kisame mutter something about why he put up with ungodly early risers for partners, before turning the alarm off. Kisame trailed off into incoherency before dropping back to sleep.

The bathroom mirror showed Itachi a face that clearly would have liked nothing better than to turn around and slink back into bed. He and Kisame had been up late the night before, tracking down the targets of their latest mission. By the time they had agreed to rent a room for the night and continue their search in the morning, Itachi had considered the possibility of just staying up and getting a head start on his morning ritual rather than waking unsatisfied a few hours later.

Kisame had snickered at that.

Itachi allowed himself to yawn into his hand before falling into his daily routine. He reached into the shower stall and turned the hot water on, then stretched while he waited for it to heat. He took his time washing himself, making sure to do a thorough job when he came to shampooing and conditioning his hair. After he had got out and dried, he wrapped a towel around his waist before going to the counter where he had set everything he would need out the night before. His shirts were folded neatly next to his trousers, the assortment of bottles and little tubs of different kinds of lotions set out along the mirror's length in the order that he used them. He didn't even need to look at the label to know which container he picked up first, he had already memorized the order long ago.

Itachi knew that the clutter he put out in the bathroom every night amused his partner. When he had first developed this sense of vanity Kisame had merely shaken his head at the mess and the lost sleep, but said that as long as it didn't affect Itachi's abilities during missions, it was none of his concern. He assumed that it was a new faze that the Uchiha would eventually grow out of once he became older. If the younger missing ninwere a more open person, he might have snapped at his partner about his antics hardly being for himself.

Itachi turned on the faucet water, wetting a comb underneath the stream that issued from it while he examined his fingernails for any signs of chipping in the polish.

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The Uchiha clan's massacre had happened the same year Itachi had become an ANBU captain, and not a novelty one at that. But despite that fact, Akatsuki had still been mildly surprised to discover that the murderer joining their ranks was no older than thirteen. If it weren't for the group's two-man teams policy, Itachi was certain that the older members of the organization would have insisted that he stay at home base for "training" proposes. However, the amount of missions piling up was already reaching an alarming rate, and Kisame was hardly willing to sit around waiting for his new partner to be deemed worthy of the organization. He had pointed out that the Uchiha was already a famous prodigy in his village long before the murder of his family, though Itachi suspected that the shark nin had probably threatened to personally "trim" Zetsu's leaves if he were forced to stay at homebase any longer than the two weeks that they had already been forced to wait.

So, with no small number of nervous comrades backing them, Itachi and Kisame were sent out on missions. For almost the entire first year they were traveling from one country to the next. Itachi had turned fourteen on the day that he assassinated his first kage in the Lighting country (despite insisting on Itachi's capabilities, Kisame had refused to let the teenager perform any murders pervious, much to Itachi's annoyance). Itachi had thought that with him and his shark-like partner barely spending more than twelve hours at a time in the city nearest their headquarters, it was perfectly understandable that he hadn't found an apartment of his own yet... Workactually served to effectively keep the fact that Itachi had nothing to go home to from his mind. He had no hobbies, no pets, close friends, and thanks to his "parting farewell" to his clan, no family. Though he hadn't even thought of those facts until the day he and Kisame turned in a report to their superior and were abruptly told to take a break.

He had stood next to Kisame for a moment after, inwardly shocked. "Inwardly" meaning that when Kisame had turned to him with a smile on his face and said, "See you in a week," he didn't notice that the younger of their partnership was fighting the urge to charge after their superior and demand another mission.

Perhaps months of traveling with the other missing nin had created a habit in Itachi to have Kisame nearby, because when the shark-man had walked away from the spot where they had beensecretly meeting with their comrade, Itachi's feet began leading him down the street after him.

Kisame was apparently taking the news of their "break" far easier than the Uchiha. He slipped in with non-nins easily, despite his physical features. And with any shinobi he might have run into likely to be from Akatsuki, he saw no need to disguise his chakra signature. Perhaps in the back of his mind, he was aware of his younger partnertrailing afterhim. As he turned a corner toward the local bathhouse, his eye caught a flash of a black and red cloak, but he didn't think much of it. After all, they had just come back from a LONG stream of missions, why wouldn't Itachi want to take a bath too? So when he was about to go inside, he turned around good naturedly and asked, "Hey Itachi, do you want to go inside with me?"

When addressed, Itachi had blinked mutely. His partner's voice seemed to bring him out of the daze he had gone into upon being told he was on vacation. He responseded to Kisame's offer with his normal, "Hn," along with taking the few steps necessary to close the distance between the mist nin and himself. He allowed himself to be led into the building. After all, he thought, a bath couldn't hurt, right?

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Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, his hair still damp from the comb, Itachi reached for the black trousers on the counter. He let his towel fall and quickly stepped into the clothing, only halfheartedly worrying about whether the door behind him was locked. When he glanced up at the mirror again, he saw that though he no longer looked like he was about to fall asleep at any moment, he still had bags under his eyes that he would have to tend to later when he was applying his makeup. Before he did that though, Itachi reached for one of the shirts folded nearby. There were two of them: one made from a clingy gray fishnet material, and the other a small black tank top to be worn underneath. He tugged the black one over his head, careful to keep his hair from dampening it. The fishnet shirt he left on the counter while he started the faucet water again to wash his still shower-pinkened face.

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On missions, Itachi and Kisame had naturally gone to bathhouses together more than once. Neither was fond of the idea of sleeping next to someone who had not bathed in over two weeks and who, depending on their mission, could possibly have residue of strange entrails or other bodily substances left on their person. That in mind, Itachi did not feel at all uncomfortable walking into the changing room in toe with his partner. After all, in some villages that didn't have individual bathrooms it was necessary to bathe in the same room as other naked men. However, in most bathhouses their was at least enough room for Kisame and Itachi to ignore one another. Unlike the night of their first "break" from their organization, when apparently the plumbing in all other parts of town had decided to shut off without warning. The result? One very crowded bathhouse.

Viewed by a stoic ninja, the crowd could have been a good thing. A lot of people meant that conversation was not necessary because it could not be heard over other bathers. It was especially good for Itachi because it also meant that Kisame could not ask why he had been following him (Itachi having not figured out that his partner had already supplied a perfectly logical explanation for him). But the large number of people meant that it would be harder for Itachi to avoid contact with strange, naked bodies if he ventured away from Kisame.

Their bath went quickly. Itachi didn't care so much about cleanliness then as he would by the time he was seventeen. He was just reaching for his towel when Kisame stood up next to him. The sound of water splashing shouldn't have made him turn his head, if asked later he would say that he was just surprised by the sudden movement and ignore the fact that there was just as much "sudden movement" happening in whatever other direction that he could have looked. The truth was that while the size of the crowd had driven the fourteen year old to take refuge closer to his unconcerned partner, they had gotten to be pressed thigh to thigh, and the sudden loss of that contact made Itachi feel cold, despite the warm water.

At the age of twenty, Kisame's body had already reached it's peek. Having heard the other nin yap on in mostly one-sided conversations during work, Itachi knew that the his partner's past in another organization had demanded him to always be in a state ofphysical perfection. But Itachi was only staring because he was startled at seeing another person so close; one who wasn't a part of his family. It had nothing to do with the fact that he was a boy just at the age when one starts to notice others in a certain way, and that as Kisame reached for his towel, Itachi was being given a clear view of a well built, wet individual.

When Kisame turned around and offered a half-wave of farewell before entering the changing rooms, he was thankfully too far away from the raven-haired boy to notice if a flush came to his face.

After Kisame left, Itachi had no protection against the crowd. And even more so, nothing to distract him from the lack of a place to go to once he finally got out of the water. It became frighteningly clear that there was only one person that he could possibly ask for a place to spend the night.

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He shivered a little at the first touch of the cold sunscreen against his skin. He had to cover every inch that was exposed to the sun. Face, neck, certain areas on the chest, even his hands were generously slopped in the white cream so that he had to wait a moment for it to sink in. Even after three minutes had passed, his hands were still slippery and soft from the lotion. The amount of time his job required him to spend in the sun was one of the few things thatItachi couldn't find a way to bend around his will. His skin had inherited the natural paleness of the Uchiha clan, which was a feature that he strived to maintain. Unfortunately, refusing to travel by day would have not only cross over Kisame's As-Long-As-It-Doesn't-Effect-Missions policy, but also would have been to childish for him to justify even to himself.

Next he took up another container. This one was a short cylinder with a twist off cap, opposed to the little snap-open one of the sunscreen. He opened it up and immediately smelled the pleasant odor of coco butter. The only service that this item actually had for him was its smell. It was applied to all the areas that he didn't have to worry about the sun burning and then replaced to the line of waiting containers.

Looking up into the mirror he saw that his hair had begun to clump together into visible locks as it dried. He ran a hand self-consciously through it as he reached for the comb again, this time not bothering to wet it before he vigorously attacked his hair with almost the same single mindedness that he saved for work.

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If Kisame had noticed when Itachi again fell into step a little ways behind him, he didn't say anything. The boy couldn't say why he didn't go directly to the other missing nin, or why he followed him secretly. He knew that Kisame wasn't likely to send him away if he chose to walk with him.

Kisame went down the street among the non-nins without stopping. As the minutes added up into a full hour of wandering, Itachi began to wonder if his partner was really planning on going home at all. People were still bustling about around them, enough so that if the older nin turned around Itachi would be able to duck into a crowd for cover. But he noticed that the people began to change. There were fewer women on the streets, and even fewer men who didn't smell or walk as if they had been drinking.

When Kisame turned a corner, Itachi ducked into a small crowd huddled aroundthe nook ina building's outside wall so that he wouldn't be seen during the moment that his partner'shead changed directions. The people in the group stopped speaking when he stepped into their circle, but when he tried to leave one of them approached him.

"Hey, little boy, did you lose your way?" The person who came toward him sounded old enough to have been his father, and as he came closer to the street light, Itachi could see that he alsolooked old enough too. From his expression, Itachi judged he wasn't interested in offering directions.

Itachi backed away with a warning glare on his face. The man and his friends must have been too intoxicated or simply too stupid to take the warning seriously, because the man kept coming. Two of his companions stood up to join him. He guessed that the three thought that they were intimidating.

Itachi smirked menacingly, which was also missed by his attackers. His hand calmly brushed his red-and-black cloak away from his hip and slid down to his weapon hostler. With the man still not fazed, Itachi withdrew two kunai. Since he wasn't aiming to kill so much as startle, he didn't hit any of the three on a deadly note. The most damage that was done was a scratched across the side of the first man's face and a chunk of his ear cut free. The other kunai hit the wall squarely between theother two.

"Fuck!" the first one screamed. He covered his face in his hands, trying to stop the blood. Little cuts, in Itachi's opinion,tended to bleed entirely too much. The other members of the group either looked at Itachi in horror or rushed to help their comrade. One of them shouted, "What's you problem!"

Itachi's face returned to its emotionless state, and he started to walk away. Then he began to worry. That hadn't been quiet. What if Kisame had heard? Quickening his pace, Itachi rounded the corner. Kisame wasn't on the other side, which probably meant that the commotion with the possible molesters hadn't given him away. But now what was he supposed to do with his evening?

He could still sense his partner's chakra, but looking at the faces of the men as he passed, Itachi didn't see him. If Itachi's headbegan darting from person to person as he hurried down the street, he could only be glad that no one who would recognize him was there to see. This was ridiculous. It should have been easy to find Kisame! How many people walked around looking like a damned shark, for crying out loud!

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In the bathroom, Itachi straightened his shirts. They hugged his body as if they were specificly made for his torso, almost begging for people to stare despite the wearer's cool indifference. He pulled his hair away from his face and into the long ponytail that he had been growing since he was fourteen. His family seemed to a have slow-growing-hair gene that he had inherited along with the fair skin. The bangs that he left to frame his face fell perfectly around his forehead protector, long enough so that if he tilted his head downward, one could miss the slash going through the symbol of the Hidden Village of the Leaf.

Knowing that his morning ritual was coming to an end, Itachi reached for his makeup bag, which he left sitting on the counter next to where his clothes had been before. He pulled the concealer outfirst, and leaned across the sink so h would be able to watch the dark spots under his eyes more closely.

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He had found out where Kisame had gone to eventually. After spending a total of fifteen minutes walking up and down the darken street where he had last seen Kisame turn. It took an embarrassingly long time for it to dawn on him that feeling the other's chakra more closely in the one area but not seeing him could only mean one thing: Kisame had gone INSIDE one of the buildings. Realizing that he might have just stumbled across his partner's home, Itachi looked around to see if any of the street's occupants were paying close attention to him, then summon chakra into his feet. He climbed up the brick wall quickly, all too aware that Akatsuki had chosen the non-nin area as its base for a reason. He didn't hear any loud gasps, or any shouts of "Oh my god!" below him, and guessed that he wasn't the only one that didn't look up when walking down a street.

His partner's chakra signal came strongest on the tenth floor, the third room to the right. He stopped by the window there and peered inside impatiently.

If this was his partner's home, he did a very good job of making it look like it belonged to someone else. There were frills on a lot of the furniture pieces, and knick-knacks that Itachi would have had a very difficult time seeing Kisame buying in stores. The very neatness of the living room, which was the only one he could see through the window, was surprising too. It just didn't look like Kisame...it was almost effeminate. Itachi was certain, in fact, that Kisame wasn't- couldn't possibly be- THAT good at disguising his home, and thus he had somehow mistaken the location of his partner. He was just about to go on to the next apartment over when a door opened in the room and his blue-skinned partner waltzed out.

Itachi was glad he was so talented with his chakra control, otherwise he likely would have fallen back in surprise. Kisame was standing, still in his Akatsuki uniform, in the middle of the frilly, pink room.

...Itachi must have dearly underestimated his partner's illusion abilities-

Then a second figure came out of the same door. This person was tall bodied and pale skinned; their hair, messy and knotted from Itachi-didn't-know-what, was long and a shiny, inky black color. Though the person's face was incrediblyfeminine (which a young Itachi had not seen very often in his line of work yet, and therefore was confused by), Itachi saw clearly that the figure was male by thefragile looking chest that was easily exsposed by the pink sheet held lossely around the man's waist. This person was easier to picture owning the apartment. Itachi almost sighed in relief. It would have been very hard to look at his partner the same wayduring work knowing that he decorated his living space in such a girly manner.

Kisame went straight for the front door, which Itachi was able to recognize because of the glass bubble in its center where the person on the inside of the apartment was meant to look out at visitors. Kisame opened it and turned to the other man with a friendly smile on his face. He said something that Itachi couldn't hear through the glass, and the other man grinned in return. He came to the doorway and, Itachi's eyes widened, stood up on tip-toe to plant a saucy kiss on the shark-nin's mouth.

Thus was Itachi's first glimpse of homosexuality.

Kisame's cheeky smile stayed on his face as he took a step into the hallway, the effeminate man's hand coming up in a small wave similar to the one Itachi had received in the bathhouse, and then closed the door. Still carelessly draped in a sheet, the man went back into his bedroom, his satisfied smile lingering on his lips.

Itachi waited until he saw his partner exit the building below him and start off down the street before he went after him again. He decided to stay up on the buildings' sides this time since the chances of being intercepted by one of the less-than-trust-worthy men below were far fewer. He just had to make certain that his chakra was well masked.

But what he did not expect to see when he turned another corner after the shark-nin, was said shark-nin staring directly up at the building's wall, with his hands casually slipped into his pockets, clearly waiting for something.

Itachi hung back for a few minutes, but seeing as Kisame did not show any signs of moving, came down. The angle of Kisame's head rotated to follow him.

"Is that you, Itachi?" the other ninja's deep voice called out. Itachi walked toward his partner quietly. "Kami, I thought you were a hunter nin for a minute," Kisame said. When Itachi didn't respond with anything other than a blink, the smile faded off the swordsman's face. "Shouldn't you be home right now?" Itachi responded to this with a blank expression, willing Kisame to make up a story for him to pounce onto. "...You do have a house, right?" Again, Itachi forced his partner to jump to conclusions- which thus far had been accurate. He might have made a good examiner.

Kisame cursed. One hand began moving inside its pocket, coming out with something that Itahct couldn't clearly see at first, but jingled as it was tossed to him. Itachi caught them without thinking, and heard Kisame say, "My place is twelve blocks down, it's the first room you come to on the third floor. I'm not going to be in for awhile, so you can go ahead and take the bed...you've already eaten, right?"

Itachi wanted to frown at the parental tone in Kisame's voice, but to do that he would have to break his mask. He just nodded, feeling oddly young under the other nin's eyes.

"Alright, I'll see ya later." Kisame gave him that wave again and started off down the street. Itachi watched him go, the keys clenched in his hand. He didn't like the way the other missing nin had spoken to him. On missions he never sounded like that...

Before Itachi knew what he was doing, he was going down the street after Kisame. He walked up onto the wall despite the fact that in the particular area that his partner was leading him there were fewer people on the streets. When Kisame entered another building, Itachi followed the chakra signal to the next window and watched as another man answered the door for him. This one lived in a calmer looking apartment. They had dark hardwood floors with shelves of books and small polished stones set up against the walls and a old comfortable looking couch in the center of the room, facing a television set. They kept their window open, so that Itachi was forced to crouch farther back or risk being scene when the person raised their head from their book at the sound of Kisame's knock on their door.

The person was wearing an oversized light green sweater and a pair of tan khakis with no shoes. He kept his hair pulled back into a ponytail, which he let loose after peering through the glass in the door. The color was the same as the first mysterious man's. It made their pale skin seem carved from ivory and their black eyes sparkle like orbs of jet set into their face. It didn't cross Itachi's mind that he had heard the same observation that he had mentally made saidabout mulitple memebrs of his family, until later.

When the man opened the door, Itachi had to admit that he was grateful for the open window. Listening in on the conversation was much easier.

"I thought you were out of work on business," the man said after opening the door. Itachi was crouchedso that only his eyes were visible over the window ledge.

"I was. Now I'm back," Kisame responded, grin in place.

"And you chose to come to me? I'm flattered."

Kisame leaned on the side of the door frame. "It's been too long since we last got together."

There was a crudenod from the strange man and then he held the door open wider. "You're just lucky I haven't seen anyone all week, otherwise I'd turn you out for coming here this late," he said, but there was a look in the man's eyes as they raked up the shark-nin's body that Itachi would later recognize as lust.

"I would have been here earlier, I just got caught up with my partner."

Itachi couldn't see from his vantage point that one of the man's eyebrows rose.

"Not that way, he's fourteen."

"And the problem is...?"

Kisame seemed to grimace. "I don't do kids."

Outside, Itachi let out what might have been a growl. How dare he…!

"How thoughtful." The man sniffed.

The man held the door open wider for Kisame to come in, and then closed it quickly behind him as if expecting something else to try jumping in after his blue visitor. Itachi was confused by what the man had meant when he was talking about him, until Kisame grabbed the smaller man by his waist and turned him around. He pressed the man's back against the wall, holding him up a bit so that his head was higher than his own. Itachi heard the strange man moan as his partner's mouth mashed into his, the black hair falling forward as if to curtain the sight from their viewer's eyes.

The man moved his hips against Kisame's in rapid grinding movements, his hands impatiently pulling at the shark-man's clothes. Kisame was unable to do much in response (that Itachi was able to see) since his own hands were busy holding the smaller man against the wall. To fix this, Kisame hefted the man up so that he was partially on his shoulder and carried him toward the carelessly-left-open bedroom door. Itachi heard bed springs squeal as two bodies fell onto them.

Thus was Itachi's first look at casual sex.

Itachi slinked into the apartment after a total of three minutes of hesitation. He wasn't sure if his partner would be too preoccupied to notice him. The bedroom door was still open.

He looked round the bookish man's apartment, unaware that he was comparing it to the first one he'd seen that night. Clearly, the man had nothing in common taste wise with the first. Other than Kisame.

He heard a strangled cry from the bedroom that made him raise an eyebrow in it's direction. He considered taking a step closer to peer inside, but then squashed the impulse. He would not sink that low! Turning his head around and scanning the room for something else to focus his attention on, his eyes locked with those of his reflection in an old fashion oval-shaped mirror set up between two bookcases across from where he was standimg. He took in his own light complexion and short cropped hair. Then it hit him what the two men had in common. His eyes faded out of their sharringon to the their natural black. Fingering the short ends of his own short hair, Itachi heard the springs come to a sudden stop followed by not one, but two cries from the bedroom.

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Itachi studied his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He brought up the image of the thirteen year old that had left the Hidden Village of the Leaf four years ago and compared it to what he saw now. His body had become taller and thinner, a fact that no amount of training had been able to change. His skin was pale because of the straw hat and full body cloak that his organization issued for its agents (and also the sunscreen he applied during the day had helped). The lines around his eyes had become more pronounced as he grew older. Whether they would have appeared naturally or because of the excessive use of his sharringon, he wasn't sure. His father had had lines like them on his face as well. They made him seem older, but because of the memory, he wasn't sure how he felt about them. His eyes were always red because of his bloodline limit, which he had gotten into the habit of constantly having activated. Then there was his hair. He had become very vain about that over the past few years, letting it grow out to a length that his clan would have no doubt nagged him about. He kept it back in a ponytail most of the time because it would have otherwise gotten in his way during missions, but nevertheless refused to cut it. When Kisame asked why hekept his hair so long if he wasonly going to ignore it, he received nothing but a cold stare in response.

All and all, he looked nothing like the blood-splattered boy who left Konoha after killing off his clan. Nothing like the boy Kisame had fished out of a river after passing out from over-spending his chakra before they became partners. The person in the mirror was someone who was known for his deadly powers and angelic looks, someone who on multiple occasions had been called everything from panty-wetting hot to unearthly beautiful. If he had wanted, Itachi could have had any number of people.

Yet somehow, the one person he wanted to comment on his beauty...

"Are you done in there yet?"

...never seemed to notice.

The bathroom door opened after three loud knocks and Kisame came in. He received a cold glare from his partner via the mirror, which he returned with a good natured smile. "Good morning to you too, Itachi."

Reachinginto the shower, the older of the two turned the knob so that water shot out of the faucet. Without a word of warning, the shark ninja began pullingoff hisclothingwhile the water heated. Kisame didn't seem to notice that there were eyes watching his form in the mirror.

There was no way Itachi could deny it. On countless vacations since that first one, he had found himself following his partner around town. He knew exactly which restaurants he visited, where he lived, and which apartments he had "friends" in. His one night fascination hadn't left him in over three years. He didn't know how to stop it. Uchiha Itachi, the coldest, most deadly creature to ever come out of the Leaf, had a crush.

...On Kisame.

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A/N:

WOW! This came out A LOT longer than I thought it would! I guess I got a little carried away…And through it all I managed to use almost no dialogue! Yay for me! I was avoiding it, does it show?

KisaIta is my all time favorite Naruto pairing, and I couldn't help wanting to take one try at writing it, though Itachi came out a little OOC, didn't he? Alwell. I'm a little tired of seeing Kisame being the one that wants Itachi in the beginning and never vice-versa, so that's what I tried to do in this, after all, Itachi was with Kisame nearly every day during puberty, I would think that he'd look at least once, right:silence: Oh, come on! You know you would!

Because of review requests, I went through and made the changes between Itachi's memory and his bathroom scenes more clear. In my defense, I did use the star symbol before…but then I forgot that got rid of it for some reason.