Itachi left the battle field hastily, leaving behind the Ninetail worked up at their victory, his brother still craving for revenge, several jounins and Kisame's corpse.
He escaped from the scene, ran as fast as he could, never-known feelings piling up inside him, hysteria moving his muscles.
His lungs were heavy as lead, breathing felt hard; something hurt…
His face, so numb, moved on its own, showing feelings for the first time since his childhood.
His chest kept hurting…
And then it burst out of him; a scream, a stranger howling out of him, someone else's hoarse voice. He inhaled deeply again but he could not keep it in; tears flew down his face and they tasted salty.
His palm found a random tree; his shoulder followed, leaning to the support. It hurt, the pain did not intend to cease; his throat, his lungs hurt but he screamed.
Regret ached in his entire body as he sobbed hard like a child, while it slowly dawned on him, everything he had before. And that he lost it all.
There was no more Kisame. Never again would he walk beside him, so much taller than his also tall form; he would never fight beside him, make short but unnecessary comments, spread some calm, cheerful atmosphere around himself even in the worst situations, even when killing, even with that weird, fearsome, shark-likely cruel, stiff face of his. Never would he let his voice be heard, that misty tone always more flexible when joking.
Never, never will there be anyone else who would stay at Itachi's side with such certainty.
No one who would gain Itachi's full trust in such a short period of 10 years.
No one brave enough to accompany him on his ways.
Strong enough to stay on his side in battles.
Kind enough to let him enjoy the advantages without a fight.
Clever enough to see through his sulk and calm him with simply not taking him that seriously.
Kisame was all of the above; everything you could wish for in a partner.
Kisame was everything.
He's a beast, Deidara noted once. "A beast working as our team's ultimate killing machine, just like you, Itachi. I could not sleep if he was my partner, though. And the others agreed.
Itachi's face did not move an inch when the Leader appointed the two of them as constant partners. Kisame grinned, as always when any kinds of feelings reached him.
This made them somehow similar. Neither of them was easy to read when it came to emotions.
The other members felt relieved and pitied Itachi. He did not care for Kisame, as he did not care for anything.
He should have swelled with pride to have him as his partner.
He should have gone to the city with him more often when they were stuck in a foreign land's mission, currently having nothing to do.
He should have paid for their dinner instead of him, at least once in this Goddamned life.
He should have memorized his grin more precisely.
He should have memorized his jokes that never lacked some self-irony.
He should have disagreed.
He should not have left his corpse behind.
Regret shook his body now weaker than an autumn leaf. His voice now a pathetic, craving whimper, as he kept chanting the name he uttered so many times before without any emotion, without the honor its owner deserved.
Itachi used to think he managed in life quite well alone. Now he had to realize he managed only because he had never been alone.
Now truly without anyone, he died in the next battle by the hands of his brother.
He did not mind it happening this way. He already knew: you would never win if you do not have someone to fight for.
He hated to live with his regrets anyway. He had so many regrets, he could live with them, but sometimes it was tiring to no end. As soon as Kisame died, Itachi knew this one won't fit into his list any more.
He did so many stupid things.
It was high time someone stopped him. Although a bit late…
He should have survived.
He wondered how he would have reacted seeing his partner die; but he did not need much brooding to know Kisame had not acted similarly to him.
Itachi was not worth loving, after all.
And so he died without knowing just how wrong he was.