One Step Forward
My Dead Tenshi

Dedicated to art and chocolate and writing at two in the morning.

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Sometimes Itachi wishes he could love Kakashi like he should.

He will lie awake and watch the Anbu sleep, and watch the shafts of moonlight fall upon his bedmates face, observe the peaceful way Kakashis chest will move up and down, unusually bare lips parted to draw breath and eyes closed. He is well aware of the great show of trust in this act - like a wolf rolling onto its back and yielding to another, Kakashi is exposing every part of himself, offering him up to the Uchiha to kill or kiss or fuck or all three. He knows this is hard for Kakashi, not only because the boy is a shinobi and an Anbu and an orphan and a sort - of - coward but because he's Kakashi and it's in his nature. Sometimes Itachi wonders if this faith is reasonable as he watches Kakashi sleep and imagines crimson spattered against that pale skin, droplets on those silver locks, tears in mismatched eyes, luscious lips gasping in surprise and pain and still lungs suddenly deflating in a thin chest. Sometimes, after this, he will extend a hand and brush a soft cheek with his fingers just to hear his name come from Kakashis lips as the boy wiggles closer to the dirty sheets, but sometimes Itachi will feel so disturbed that he'll slip out from between the sheets, and redress himself in clothing branded with the Uchiha name. When this happens, Kakashi will open his eyes and watch sadly as the other leaves without a word through the window, and not know when he will return - if at all. Itachi knows he is hurting Kakashi by using him, but he cannot bring himself to stop, because in an existence as meaningless as Itachis was, these things have no meaning. Uchiha Itachi doesn't live, he exists, and it drives him crazy to know this.

Sometimes Kakashi pretends it doesn't hurt to be that alone.

He will open the door of his empty apartment, blood - spattered and cold, and softly mutter the ritual "I'm home." When no-one replies (Which couldn't be every time, could it? He wasn't that alone was he?), Kakashi will reply on his own ("Welcome back". So lonely, so lonely, his voice echoes in the dark). He will not switch on the light as there is no need - the house is so empty, so small, that it is simple enough to wander into the bathroom, to fumble only slightly turning on the shower, to shed his soaking black outfit and toss his ceramic mask onto the sink - the feral thing leers at him, reveling in his absolute monopolization of his apartment - and as he is shedding the second mask beneath - deception, many layers, all disturbingly fake, the cowardly Hatake Kakashi hides like the child he is - naked now, Kakashi looks up and stares with wide eyes at his reflection in the glass mirror. He is not at all as the rumors say, the rumors flung around the Anbu headquarters - strong, smart, definitely capable, Kakashi's a prodigy among the best - he is nothing but a frightened weakling, but unable to hide among his mothers skirts, he hides himself in uniform. Hatake Kakashi lives a lie and takes no comfort in this fact.

But sometimes Itachi does love Kakashi ...

As the raven watched his bedmate exhale, watched long eyelashes flutter and thin, familiar lips breathe his name for maybe the last time that night, as panting dies down and legs loosen on his hips and as he pulls out of the other, laying Kakashi gently onto the sheets and pulling the blankets over the both of them (he could stay for a little while, at least, and if his parents were angry, well, that was their problem), an unfamiliar feeling blossoms in his stomach and he strokes the others hair. His bedmate - lover, lover, lover! - smiles in that way that Itachi recognizes solely as his own, and snuggles closer to Itachis bare chest. Absentmindedly Itachi scratches Kakashis back - just how he knows Kakashi likes - but then stops once he realizes what he is doing. Kakashi gives a little sound of dismay at the lost contact and the feeling rises once more in Itachi, urging him to re - engage in the soothing motion, and he does. Itachi now knows that life had meaning all along, he just hadn't found it yet.

... And sometimes, for Kakashi, it doesn't hurt.

Kakashi hates himself and his cowardice. The mask teases him silently, and Kakashi holds it in his hands, challenging it with and angry glare before tossing it to he side (It hits the door with a crack and breaks in half, finally silenced). He looks back up at the mirror and is compelled to destroy it, too, instead only extending an arm out and resting his hand palm - down on the cold glass. Then a familiar presence is felt entering his home, and even though the chakra has been suppressed so well that even an Anbu shouldn't be able to spy it out Kakashi's always waiting so he knows. A strong arm wraps around his waist from behind, the other caring little that Kakashi is covered from head to toe in blood and dirt and sin and a well-known scent envelopes the shinobi - grass and the forest and a hint of rosemary, a scent that belonged only to Itachi - and lips meet and Kakashi remembers why he ever bothers to return from missions, even back - breaking ones that make him sorely regret being a shinobi, why he hasn't tried to kill himself again, why he doesn't give up like he wanted to after Obito, after Rin, after Namikaze - sensei died. Because he finds hope in obsidian eyes and a future in post - intercourse embraces. Why? Because he had to. He needed to, to survive. Kakashi likes to think he's Itachi's only lover, the only person who's been held in cold arms but still feel warm.

And sometimes - just sometimes - they're both satisfied.

That night Itachi didn't leave. That night Kakashi didn't fake sleep as he occasionally did, just to be sure Itachi stayed and it wasn't a dream. No. The moment the raven moved, he was stopped by a pale arm wrapping around his neck and pulling him back down. Desperate black - and - red eyes stared into his and the Uchiha cupped Kakashi's face with a hand, the other arm holding the boy to his chest. They were silent for what seemed like hours - Kakashi, curled in Itachis lap, both hands around Itachi's neck, Itachi, one hand in Kakashi's hair and the other on the boys hip, his forehead resting on the Anbus shoulder. The quiet will not be awkward or unformfortable; it is welcoming and loving and caring and everything else of that nature and more.

"Itachi?"

"Yes?"

"I love you."

"I know."

And nothing else matters. Because nothing else exists.

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-Fin-