Crack pairing dream of the night: Itachi/Hana. I should not be allowed to write stories based on odd dreams—especially when they turn out like this one did. But it makes sense to me in that odd sort of cracky way... And it's my first time writing Itachi, so tell me what you think!

Dedicated to Hey-Diddle-Diddle, who asked for a crack pairing (but not this one.)


Itachi remembers everything.

Even before his Sharingan developed, even before he activated the Copy Mirror Eye and proved himself the genius of his clan, he had the Uchiha mind, the Uchiha blood, the Uchiha brain wired with more complexity and more fragility than even the Hyuuga could claim. Even before he graduated from the Academy at seven years old, the youngest genin since Hatake Kakashi, he could cast a fleeting glance across a page of notes or a playground of children, and remember them perfectly for years.

And so he remembers her.

He spent three weeks in her class, after the chuunin sensei for the first-year-class argued her way into getting him promoted into the second-years. The Academy principal refused to believe after that that he really could be the genius his sensei claimed he was, so for three weeks he sat small and fragile-boned and six in the middle of a classroom of seven-year-olds, finishing his homework while the sensei demonstrated jutsu he'd already mastered, or reading ahead in his textbooks while the other children struggled to finish their quiz.

On the third day, half an hour after class started, the empty seat next to him was abruptly filled.

He glanced up just in time to see her sit down, sliding behind the desk beside him like a dog through a hole in the fence. Her left arm was bandaged from elbow to shoulder, and her low ponytail was as disheveled as if she'd just torn herself free from a fight. She was panting slightly.

"'m Hana," she told him, "an' I've been here all along, okay?"

"Sensei's already called the roll," he told her flatly.

"I was in the bathroom," she said, and grinned. Her teeth were small and white, but her canines were longer and sharper than he'd ever seen on anyone, and her grin had a feral edge to it that made her lie almost a challenge.

He shrugged and went back to his book.

Fifteen minutes later Sensei looked up from the papers and blinked. "Inuzuka Hana? Do you have a note?"

"I got an eight-inch scar," she said proudly, pointing to her bandaged arm. "An' the rabies tests made me throw up so I had to stay home another day."

Sensei blinked again and tried another tack. "You're late."

"Am not," she countered swiftly. "'ve been here since before the bell rang. Just kinda quiet 'cause I'm tired."

She glanced at Itachi, brows lifting, the crimson fangs tattooed on her cheeks rippling as she smiled at him again—but this time there was an edge of pleading to her smile. Sensei was staring at him as well. "Itachi?"

He had power, he discovered, with a slight tingle of surprise and pleasure. If he shook his head, Hana would be in trouble; she'd probably get detention for being late, and worse for lying about it. If he nodded, Sensei would be fooled, and the lie would go undetected.

He nodded.

That afternoon Hana trotted up to his isolated seat on a bench at the edge of the playground; he was reading the Shinobi Field Manual, and though he heard her coming, he didn't look up. He expected thanks of some kind, maybe even a belligerent question as to why he'd helped her; he had already decided that he would shrug her off coolly and calmly and go back to studying, leaving her standing there puzzled and embarrassed.

He didn't expect her to kiss him.

He stared at her when she pulled back, still feeling the soft tingle of her lips against his cheek. "What was that for?"

"For standing up for me," she said, and shrugged. "'Cause I felt like it. Oh, hey, is that the Field Manual? My dad showed me this really cool part, it's all about how if you crush up some kinda root and drop it in someone's tea they'll puke their guts up..."

She leaned in, grinning again. "Think of anyone we can test it on?"

She has never been, in any case, the kind of person Itachi could easily forget.

And so fifteen years later, when the rest of her chuunin team is dead and she's crouching in the center of a clearing alone and bloody and savage as a cornered wolf in its den, he lowers his dripping kunai and takes a moment to watch her. She's shorter than him now, by five centimeters or so, but the tight chuunin vest and the shorts that hug her skin give no doubt that she's grown up as much as he has. Perhaps more.

Itachi, after all, has never stared his own death in the eyes.

"You sent your dogs for help," he observes after a moment.

"They'll be back," she promises. The fangs of her Shikyaku no Jutsu form stretch her full lips into a permanent snarl, but he knows she wouldn't smile for him anyway.

Her hair is escaping its low ponytail, straggling into her eyes, clotted crimson-stained to her skin. She lifts one clawed hand off the ground and shoves her forelock away from her face with the back of her arm; the streaks left on her skin are the color of the tattoos on her cheeks. In this form, he knows, she is faster, stronger, wilder; she moves on instinct as much as on thought, and her reflexes are only a little slower than his own. But she will lose this fight, and her brown eyes are bitter with that knowledge.

"Do you hate me?" he asks, and is a little surprised to hear himself ask it. It doesn't matter, really, save as a sop to his curiosity; not even Sasuke's hate matters to him anymore, now that the boy has thrown away his potential and his self to serve as second-best. But Hana has always managed to surprise him, and her hate is only another form of his power.

"Thought you were a genius," she snaps, dropping her hand again, digging her clawed fingers into the earth as if it's the flesh she cannot reach. "But then, I've been wrong before."

"Wrong?" He glances at the bloody kunai still in his hand, then shrugs slightly and tosses it aside. It thunks with a wet meaty sound into the body of one of her dead teammates, and she flinches like a whipped dog.

"Thought maybe you weren't so much of a bastard as you wanted to be," she snarls. "But a bastard I could forgive. Never a traitor."

"Forgive?" He lets his lips curl into a slight smirk. "What would it take for you to forgive, Hana?"

She snarls wordlessly and lunges for him, and the speed and the brutality of her attack are enough to make even him wary; taijutsu is his weakness and her strength. But wary does not mean afraid and has never meant weak, and even as her claws rake his ribs he's slamming her up against a tree trunk with a kunai to her throat. His free hand pins her other wrist to the bark.

There's a trickle of warmth down his side, a new trickle of scarlet against her skin. Her breath is hot and harsh on his face; her breast brushes his chest as she pants, and he watches the flicker of pulse at the base of her throat with something like fascination.

"If you're going to kill me," she hisses, "do it. And stop checking me out. Damn necrophiliac."

"You're not dead yet," he assures her. "Not for a while."

There are chakra signatures approaching through the trees, the promised help; he recognizes the white-hot blaze of Hatake Kakashi and the fierce bright fury of the Kyuubi-vessel as well as a pair of weaker, angrier chakra that remind him of her. And the dogs; their enraged howls tickle his hearing. He watches her nostrils flare, catching a thousand bits of information his eyes can never give him, and sees the hope and the despair burn equally in her eyes.

"You're bleeding," she says, vindictively. "You won't get far."

"Far enough. Will it matter to you?"

Her lips curl back derisively, and abruptly her chakra snaps and the Quadruped Technique dies away, leaving white teeth not quite long enough to be called fangs, slender hands with broken fingernails instead of sharp claws, a warm body a little tenser against his. "Very much. My mother and my brother are out there."

He lifts an eyebrow. "Family loyalty. How…Inuzuka of you."

She opens her mouth in furious retort; he presses the kunai against her neck just a little sharper, and she catches her breath and glares in raw and impotent fury. He drops the smirk and leans in just a little more.

"Your forgiveness has never mattered to me," he whispers against her lips. "I want hate."

"I don't care what you want," she says, and bites him.