Itachi awoke to screaming.

"You slept with him! Don't you have better things to do than be sleeping with slaves?! I can NOT believe you would have the nerve-!"

Itachi sighed as Pein continued his rant. "So pleasant to wake up to," he muttered. He sat up, glancing around for Kakashi. Doubtless the jounin would be frightened; he would want Itachi with him.

Itachi's heart stopped. Kakashi was nowhere to be seen.

"Don't worry about the bitch, I took care of him before I even woke you," Pein snarled. "He's alive, but not liking it. He's not anywhere you'll find him, so don't count on it-"

Within seconds, Itachi was up and holding Pein by the throat.

"Where is he?" he whispered, voice deadly calm. "Don't make me do it-"

"Itachi, you jump to conclusions," Pein said lightly, seeming to wave Itachi off. "You have no idea what you're dealing with here." Pein seemed to have no trouble breathing with Itachi's fingers in his neck, so Itachi tightened his grip. Still, Pein seemed unaffected. "Just give up," he snarled, glaring at Itachi. "There's no way you can win. Kakashi is mine-and nothing you do will stop me-!"

A sharp snap resounded through the air.

Itachi dropped Pein's lifeless body to the ground. "You are sorely mistaken," he whispered, kicking the body aside. "I'll do anything to be with him, and nothing will stop me from protecting him!" Itachi angrily stormed out the door of the room-

And almost ran over Kakashi.

Kakashi gasped and stepped back, then realized it was Itachi and gave a sigh of relief. "Itachi-sama," he murmured, inclining his head respectfully. Itachi said nothing-just threw his arms around Kakashi and pulled him close, ignoring the fact that they were both only in boxers. He slowly ran his hands up and down Kakashi's arms, holding him close and kissing him all over his face and down his neck. "Love, he's gone," Itachi finally whispered. "Pein's first body has been rendered useless. He'll flee to another, but for now we're safe…" Kakashi gave a huge sigh of relief, falling into Itachi's embrace and putting his arms up around Itachi's neck. "Calm down, love," Itachi murmured. "We don't have to worry about him for a while now…"

Kakashi could never have been happier. He was together with Itachi forever, and no one could change that. Kisame couldn't stop them ever again, and Pein couldn't for a time. Itachi was here, and nothing could pull them apart. Kakashi felt so content to just stand there, breathing in Itachi's sweet scent and holding him. Itachi's own grasp on Kakashi's body was as gentle as it ever had been, and his kisses were sheer joy to Kakashi. Kakashi finally insisted upon one for the long run, and Itachi found himself in a long, drawn-out kiss with Kakashi, soft, full lips pressed to his own. Itachi's tongue teased at Kakashi's lips, which parted eagerly for him. Itachi pushed into Kakashi's mouth with a soft groan, hands moving to Kakashi's shoulders. One hand slowly moved up Kakashi's back to rest behind the jounin's silver hair, supporting his head. Kakashi moved closer to Itachi, and the Uchiha tightened his grip. He shoved his tongue down further into Kakashi's mouth, kissing him even more deeply than before. Kakashi opened his mouth for a small gasp, and Itachi only pushed deeper, hitting the back of Kakashi's throat now. Kakashi whimpered, but did not pull away.

He was afraid.

Itachi pulled back, leaving his love with a soft, chaste kiss. "Love, I'm sorry," he whispered, stroking the side of Kakashi's face. "But you have to tell me when I go too far, alright?" As he touched Kakashi, Itachi noticed a small shiver of pain. It was hardly there, but still…he stepped back from Kakashi, holding the suddenly-trembling jounin at arm's length. He held up a hand as Kakashi stepped forward, instructing him to stay where he was, and formed a single hand sign.

"Kai!"

The genjutsu fell away, and the terrible bruises were revealed.

Kakashi's entire face was bruised, and his stomach bore marks as well, obviously from kicks. Itachi could only stare for a moment, watching Kakashi's eyes tear up, and then reached forward and pulled him into his arms again. "Pein?" he whispered, and felt the affirmative nod against his chest. The tears spilled over and came down, and all Itachi could do was comfort Kakashi and reassure he was there for him.

"He touched me."

Itachi knew exactly what Kakashi meant without having to ask; would it always end like this? "Love, he can't hurt you anymore," Itachi promised. "I made sure of that. He-he won't be bothering us again…ever…"

Kakashi nodded, knowing fell well what Itachi was implying. He had killed Pein. But for now…for now, there was nothing in the world that could hurt Kakashi. There was simply too much going on for that. The chaos could prevent anything from happening. "Kakashi…come on, do you want something to eat?" Kakashi shrugged, not really sure at this point. He was happy where he was. Itachi sighed.

"Fine, then: you're getting dressed, at least halfway, and we're eating breakfast."

"Fine."

Kakashi got dressed without a word, brushing his teeth and running a comb through his hair. It still hadn't stood back up from the way it had fallen down around his face in captivity-maybe it had just grown that way now, weighted down with blood. Itachi got dressed as well, taking over the bathroom after Kakashi. He found the jounin in the kitchen, making coffee and just kind of standing around. He looked lost in thought, and Itachi decided not to disturb him. He got a cup of coffee for himself and set about making breakfast, taking sips of coffee along the way.

"How can you drink it like that?"

Itachi turned away from the stove at the sound of Kakashi's voice. "Huh?"

Kakashi's head dipped towards Itachi's coffee. "Black like that," he said. "It's so strong…doesn't taste good."

Itachi shrugged. "I'm still a teenager," he said. "It's an acquired taste, yes, but it's the only thing heavy-duty enough to wake me up."

"Hm…"

"I'm going to take it you like yours really light?"

"To an extent…little milk never hurt anyone."

Itachi shrugged and put the eggs he was making on two plates. "Make of that what you will," he said, handing one to Kakashi and proceeding to sit down at the table with the other. On the way, he grabbed an orange from the refrigerator and a pair of chopsticks from the drawer next to the sink. "Come here," he said. "Sit." Kakashi slowly sat down across from Itachi, and the two ate without a word. There wasn't much to say at this point; it was just the two of them, and they had run out of things to say with much meaning.

A knock on the door startled both men out of their reverie.

Kakashi stood up, grabbed his mask from his room, and slipped it on over his face. Despite going without it for so long, he still wore it in front of everyone-except Itachi. Kakashi opened the door and looked around-

Only to see Sasuke standing there.

"Look, I wanted to talk to you," Sasuke said roughly. Kakashi wordlessly stepped aside, and Sasuke entered his apartment. "About Itachi." Kakashi closed the door and slowly moved towards Sasuke, who was standing, as if frozen, at the end of the hallway.

Itachi stood up, staring at Sasuke.

"Any reason you're here?"

"I wanted to talk to Kakashi," the younger Uchiha snarled, "Alone."

"Sasuke, after the way you hurt him last time, you think I'm going to just leave and wait for you to do it again? Not a shot. Anything you say to Kakashi you can say to me."

Sasuke shrugged. "Fine," he snapped, and turned back to Kakashi. "But stay out of it," he said, momentarily turning his head back to Itachi. Finally, his attention was focused solely on Kakashi. "What do you see in him?! He almost killed you, Kakashi! He's the one that captured you to begin with, and look where that ended you! You're not the same, Kakashi, and you never will be. And it's all because of this man who you think loves you. What else can I do, smack you? It won't do anything-the two of you are too sickly in love with each other. God only knows when he's just going to snap and reveal his true intentions! Kakashi, I care about you, everyone here does! And yet you choose him? Out of all the bastards in the world, hell, you could have picked even Orochimaru and I wouldn't care, but here you pick the one person I have sworn to kill, and now I can't kill him because the two of you are 'in love.' What am I supposed to do now?! I have no purpose in life now, Kakashi, and he's only going to hurt you in the end. Give up on Itachi."

Kakashi only looked shocked at first. Then, his head slowly lowered, and one hand moved to his mask. "Sasuke," he whispered, "I want you to see something." He slowly pulled down the mask, revealing the bruises speckled across his pale skin. "See this one?" he murmured, motioning to one bruise across his cheek. It was clearly a handprint: one that was clearly imprinted on Kakashi's face. Itachi understood what Kakashi meant, and stepped closer to him. He exactly matched up his hand with the bruise, making sure not to press too hard.

"It's too big to be Itachi's."

Sasuke's eyes widened at the sight: and not just the sudden discovery. The bruises were also spread across Kakashi's neck, and from what Sasuke could see, Kakashi's slender wrists were bruised as well. "Who did this?" he whispered, as Itachi pulled Kakashi's mask back up. "I'm going to kill him, too-!"

"Itachi beat you to it."

Itachi nodded slowly and wrapped one arm around Kakashi's shoulders. "It was Pein-the leader of Akatsuki," he said. "He found out where we were, snuck in, snuck Kakashi out, and beat him. I woke up when he came back and started screaming at me, and I killed him. I went to find Kakashi just as he came to find me. I'm guessing he was tied down or locked in a closet or something, and told to stay, and security was a bit lax…Pein got lazy, thinking Kakashi was too scared to do anything in defiance of him. That what happened?"

Kakashi nodded. He was not blind to the fact that Itachi had neglected to mention the other form of abuse he was receiving, but decided it was best to leave it. "He'll be coming back, though," he murmured, "With another body. But for now, we're alright."

Sasuke glared. "I'm still not comfortable with this."

Itachi sighed. "Get used to it," he said, "because we're not breaking up."

Sasuke's deadly glare did not cease. "Well, let me know when you do," he snapped, "Because the second you break his heart Itachi, I'll break something of yours."

The door slammed behind him.

Kakashi gave a small sigh of defeat and fell into Itachi's waiting arms. "You're alright," Itachi whispered, running one hand through Kakashi's hair, "You're alright. Sasuke's accepted us, and so has Tsunade. Pein and Kisame are dead, and we're both still alive and happy. What else could we need?"

A small smile came over Kakashi's face, and the mask came down again. "Absolutely nothing," he replied softly, and Itachi's lips met his.

OOOOOOOOO

Spiraled eyes slowly opened, and a borrowed body slowly shifted. Many facial piercings reflected the meager light, and a blonde ponytail swayed with the motioned of a body sitting up. A black-and-red clouded cloak swished as the figure stood upright, and walked out of a darkened room.

"You alive?"

Konan stood next to Pein, watching his movements with curiosity. "That's it," Pein gasped, "I'm done with the brat!"

A/N: End. Finis.Exeunt. Anyway, there will be a sequel, the last of the trilogy, and it will be called The Dance. I have already started work on it, so keep an eye out! Thank you to everyone who reviewed; I love you!!