our aconite-laced shadows

Naruto, Kisaita

R

Itachi, Kisame, and what lies between them.

Kishimoto owns them. If I did, Akatsuki would win. XD;;;

Written for naruto_wishlist for marmaladecat. This was written in 2006, before Kishimoto redeemed Itachi and all that good stuff. I must say I'm not a big fan of the saint Kishimoto made him. :| I prefer the interpretation that he's slightly mad - the one that was everywhere in fandom before Kishimoto laid the smackdown on us. :P


Kisame is the first person Itachi meets who is not unnerved by him at all. Itachi finds it strange. Even Sandaime had been unnerved by the way he had killed during his brief time in ANBU, the way it had not affected him at all. His father, at the end, had feared him.

When the Leader introduces him to Kisame as his new partner, neither of them is impressed with the other. Kisame looks at him, a little bit interested, a little bit appraising, and his grin is both easy and ruthless.

Itachi may still be only a teenager, but he is not stupid, nor is he blindly obliging. Akatsuki serves his purposes, and so, he will stay, however he must. Itachi will dispose of any obstacles personally, even if it manifests in the form of his partner.

His impression of Kisame changes drastically after their first mission together. Kisame is easy and accommodating, charming and polite, and civilians take easily to them because of that. Itachi knows that he does not have that skill. He also knows that Kisame is withholding his true strength, and Itachi finds himself a little interested despite himself.

Then, the Leader sends them on an assassination mission, and Kisame's seemingly endless chakra surprises even Itachi. Their target has a large retinue of guards. Itachi disposes of them easily and effectively with his Sharigan, but Kisame plows through them with his sword, Samehada, grinning hungrily, and he kills their target with a pleased look on his face.

After they leave the scene of the crime, Itachi tells Kisame, your moves attract too much attention. Kisame looks at him for a moment, then bares his teeth and says, then show me what to do next time, Itachi-san, and Itachi hears the challenge in those words.

He uses the Sharigan on their next assassination mission and quickly and efficiently kills their target. Kisame watches him appraisingly and says, the Sharigan has its own uses, Itachi-san, and Itachi hears what Kisame does not say. On their next assassination mission, Kisame easily demolishes the pathetic bodyguards with a grin while Itachi kills their target swiftly and without a fuss.

Their styles and personalities match and complement each other, they work well together, and it is not surprising that the Leader pairs them together permanently. Itachi has gotten used to Kisame, knows what to expect and what to watch, and he has not felt so at ease with anyone since Shunsui changed from his friend to his sacrifice. Their missions go easily, successfully, satisfactorily, and Itachi feels at peace for the first time in a long while.

Itachi meets Orochimaru during a break in between missions. Orochimaru eyes him as if he were some sort of prey, and Itachi feels disgust at the way Orochimaru looks at him, as if he's stripping him bare. Orochimaru's smile is not pleasant, and Itachi thinks, he is dangerous to me.

Kisame's character becomes especially clear after Itachi meets Orochimaru. Kisame is solid and dependable, perceptive and strong, worthy to be his partner, and Orochimaru is like the sleaze on the streets from whom his father had steered him away when he was still a boy and already too advanced for his age. Kisame is almost like a gentleman in a shark's skin, and Orochimaru is a snake hiding in human skin. Itachi tries to avoid Orochimaru when he can.

Now that they are partnered together permanently, their missions become more complicated. Itachi decides to use his Sharigan continuously on one of their scouting missions, and he finds he favors this over his normal vision. He can see and perceive everything so much more clearly, can follow the lines of movement of enemy nin and anticipate the jutsu of even the most unpredictable and mysterious nin. Itachi was a genius even before he acquired his Sharigan, so he does not need this, but Itachi does it anyway for the sheer strength and power that flows through him.

Then they face two nin who fight them near equally. Kisame battles with great relish, grinning with pleasure even as he bleeds. Itachi, though, is irritated. He can feel the power of the Mangekyou coiling underneath his skin, the latent power behind his eyes, and the Mangekyou flares to life when the wind jutsu his opponent uses cuts his cheek.

After that, it is not a fight. Itachi uses Tsukuyomi and reduces his opponent to a trembling pile of flesh and muscle, then kills him with a kunai through his heart. Itachi then turns to Kisame and his opponent, the Mangekyou burning to be satisfied. Kisame meets his eyes, and Itachi has to push away the urge to use Tsukuyomi on his partner. Instead, he focuses on Kisame's opponent, and when the nin turns and looks at him, Itachi places him under Tsukuyomi as well, then kills him mercilessly afterward.

Kisame is uncharacteristically silent when they leave, but Itachi does not care, the power of the Mangekyou still humming against his skin. Kisame gets them a room in an inn the next country over, and once they enter their room, Itachi shuts the door, pins Kisame against the wall, and kisses him.

It is Itachi's first time, and it is not as good as it will be. It is rough, at times more a fight than anything else. Power coils beneath Itachi's skin, and he sinks his teeth and nails into Kisame, draws blood and licks it off. Kisame is not gentle, either, and the sex is savage, blood drawn and skin pierced, and all Itachi can feel is pleasure wrapped in power.

Itachi is not ashamed the next morning, but he does not speak of it, either, and Kisame does not bring it up. They continue as partners, successfully completing all of their missions, and Itachi does not forget the high of that night.

The second time they have sex occurs after Itachi uses the Mangekyou again. Itachi is more aware this time. The power is still there, thrumming in his blood, but Itachi does not lose himself in it. The sex is not any gentler, but it is better, now that Itachi is more experienced and more conscious of his surroundings. They do not mention it again the next morning, but it is no longer as unspeakable as it had been.

The third time, Itachi initiates it without using the Mangekyou beforehand. Kisame is not gentle, and Itachi does not want him to be. He is not weak. There is something about the light shocks of pain mixed in with the pleasure; Itachi is by no means a masochist, not like Hidan, but the pain reminds him that they are partners first and foremost, before anything else. That is the way they must be.

Then, Itachi starts losing his vision. It is trivial at first, a slight blurring of far-away objects, and Itachi pays it no mind, especially since he seldomly uses his normal vision. He continues his usual routines, and then, one day, when his chakra has been so drained by the Mangekyou that he cannot even activate his Sharigan, he finds himself unable to distinguish things in front of him. They become colors separated by lines, without any details, and Kisame notices when Itachi stands still and unmoving.

Itachi-san? Kisame asks, and Itachi says, without thinking, I can't see. It is weak of him to say so, and he despises himself for revealing such a big weakness, especially to Kisame, who can kill him when he is weak if he wishes. Kisame offers an arm, but Itachi refuses to weaken himself any further, and he follows Kisame by his chakra signature.

Itachi is angry with himself for not noticing the degenerative effects of the Mangekyou, and he kisses Kisame in anger. It is not happy, and for the first time, Itachi cannot feel the power underneath his skin. It is bitter pain, and Itachi thinks, I deserve this for being weak.

Itachi's vision does not return the next morning. He does not say anything, just activates his Sharigan, and vision comes flooding back to him. Kisame notices but does not comment, and Itachi stops deactivating his Sharigan. He also begins to use the Mangekyou less often, and when he feels the power gathering in his eyes, anticipating a strike, Itachi turns to Kisame.

Itachi can kill Kisame, if he wishes. He has thought about it at times, at night, when he feels as if he's crossing a line that should not even have to be defined. He considers the various ways he can kill Kisame, and sometimes, his fingers start curling around an imaginary katana because it could be so easy, would be so easy. Kisame would never know how he dies.

But Itachi would not do this, even though he contemplates it, because he would not be able to trust any other partner the way he trusts Kisame, would not be able to trust his new partner to not kill him when he is weak from overuse of the Mangekyou. He doubts anyone else can understand him the way Kisame can or be so accommodating, and if he were to die, he would rather die by Kisame's hand. Kisame will not kill Itachi when he is weak, and so, Itachi will allow only Kisame to kill him.

The Leader sends them with Kakuzu and Hidan to eliminate Orochimaru. Itachi is not really surprised. Sasuke must be dealt with, and he is the best person for this part of the job. He is the only person who has the privilege of doing this part of the job. Orochimaru will serve as a warning, and no one who has even the smallest chance of jeopardizing Akatsuki's plans will be allowed to live.

Itachi and Kisame meet Kakuzu and Hidan at Orochimaru's hideout. They do some cursory reconnaissance without finding any threats, and Itachi's eyes easily get them past the guards. The way is easy enough, with Kisame almost too eagerly dispatching the few people they come across, anticipatory grin on his face.

Sasuke meets them halfway into Orochimaru's hideout. Itachi has been expecting this, has almost been waiting for this. He has not seen Sasuke since he failed to retrieve the kyuubi, and although Itachi doubts it, because Sasuke has followed Orochimaru, he may be worth keeping alive. Hidan smirks, but Kisame swings Samehada down and tells him that this is between the two of them. Kakuzu glances at them with bored disinterest, Hidan swears, and they keep moving. This is why Kisame is his partner.

Sasuke charges at him first, and although Itachi dodges it easily enough, he can feel the imprint of Sasuke on his skin, the crackle of electricity still in the air, Sasuke's killing intent embedded deep into his flesh. He is faster now, almost as fast as Itachi, and is much stronger than the little brother Itachi remembers, holds so much more hate than the boy who had tried to kill him in an inn in the Land of Fire. It might almost be a real fight, the first almost-real fight Itachi's had for longer than he can remember, and Itachi can feel the Mangekyou flare to life, bloodthirsty and cruel.

When Sasuke turns and faces him, Itachi sees the not-tomoe in Sasuke's red eyes, and he is pleased. Sasuke's developed some sort of Mangekyou as well, like Kakashi-san, and Itachi wants to know how Sasuke's works because he knows his little brother did not kill Naruto-kun. He knows his little brother cannot kill the kyuubi vessel, despite what he says, and that is a weakness Itachi despises.

Itachi meets Sasuke's eyes easily, and he can feel a subtle shifting in Sasuke's chakra, as if he's about to strike. Itachi waits. And then, he becomes too aware of the chakras of the other Akatsuki members, particularly Kisame's. He can feel Kisame's excitement, the chakra pulsing under his partner's skin, just waiting to lash out, and it disconcerts him because he does not need to know this. Itachi wanted to see what Sasuke's Mangekyou can do, but he does not want to know why he is experiencing this.

Then, almost before he realizes it, Sasuke is at his back, kunai at his throat, and he growls, I'm going to kill you. Itachi forces Kisame's presence into the background and concentrates on his Mangekyou. If Sasuke is worthy, then Itachi will die without any complaints, but he will not just let himself be killed, especially not by Sasuke, who's proven himself weak again and again. Itachi can feel his senses sharpening again, Kisame's presence becoming a dull throb in the back of his mind. Sasuke has improved, but it is not enough. Itachi makes Naruto-kun appear before Sasuke, and although Sasuke only falters for one moment before seeing through the genjutsu, it is all Itachi needs to escape Sasuke's reach.

Sasuke's Mangekyou is novel, like Kakashi-san's, but it is not enough to seriously stop Itachi. His Mangekyou will always be stronger because it's the form the Sharigan is meant to take, because the sacrifice required to attain it cannot really be surpassed. Tsukuyomi and Amaterasu cannot be duplicated by a false Mangekyou. Itachi turns around and kicks Sasuke into the wall, then wraps a hand around his throat before Sasuke can recover. Kisame's chakra is flaring, pleased, almost aroused, and Itachi can feel the bloodlust enter into him as well.

Sasuke's looking away, and Itachi knows he is preparing for something, can feel subtle wisps of chakra gathering. He forcibly tilts Sasuke's head toward him, makes Sasuke's eyes meet his, and the Mangekyou takes over. They are in the world of Tsukuyomi, and Itachi puts Sasuke on a crucifix. He replays the murder of the clan over and over again, and he lets Sasuke feel each strike of his katana, lets the rush he had felt during the killings, the knowledge that he was indeed superior, flow into his weak little brother. Sasuke becomes more and more enraged and promises to kill him again and again, but he eventually succumbs to the pain, physical, emotional, and mental. Itachi is not surprised. He knows Sasuke has not fundamentally changed. Orochimaru does not have that power.

When Tsukuyomi ends, Sasuke is angry and trembling and visibly weakened, but he still manages to glare at Itachi with his Mangekyou, and bloodlust rushes through Itachi. Itachi is a little disappointed that Sasuke did not manage to resist Tsukuyomi better, but he is not surprised. Orochimaru cannot teach Sasuke to resist him, not when Itachi is stronger than him. Itachi does see strength in Sasuke now, but it is not enough to counter Sasuke's wasted potential. Itachi believes in power, but he does not believe in power attained stupidly. When he killed his clan, Itachi kept Sasuke alive not only because he was not worth killing at the time but also because Itachi believed that Sasuke, born from the same parents, had potential. Itachi had wanted to test himself against the Mangekyou. He looks at Sasuke now, and he can only see the taint of Orochimaru. True power cannot be attained while under any sort of influence or tutelage, and blind revenge at the cost of potential is worthless. Sasuke could not follow the path to greatness Itachi set for him, nor did he understand the meaning of power, and so, Itachi no longer has any use for him.

He can feel a bubbling of chakra from Sasuke, and Itachi takes a kunai and slits Sasuke's throat before Sasuke can perform a jutsu. Sasuke's head falls lifelessly, and the blood from the wound slowly trails onto Itachi's skin. Itachi kills Sasuke without any regret. He is the only person deserving of the name Uchiha, and now, he is the only Uchiha. Itachi was sentimental once before, and it had caused complications with his assignment. But Sasuke was not worth it, and now, there will be no more distractions.

Itachi steps over Sasuke's body without glancing back and continues into Orochimaru's lair. He finds a few bodies in his path at intervals, and Itachi recognizes Kisame's handiwork. He is not surprised. Itachi meets no resistance, and soon, he is standing in a large foyer.

He sees Hidan standing in his seal, mad grin on his face and pike in his hand, self-inflicted wounds still bleeding. Kabuto, meanwhile, is breathing hard, and Itachi can distinguish the new skin formed on his wounds. Itachi sees no need for him to interfere, so he turns away, toward Orochimaru's chakra signature.

Orochimaru is fatigued, worn down by Kakuzu and Kisame. Itachi can see Orochimaru's age in his borrowed body, and he thinks Orochimaru is becoming weak. Itachi is glad he removed any possibility of Orochimaru inhabiting an Uchiha body. Uchihas cannot be weak.

Even with Orochimaru weakened, just seeing him again reminds Itachi of the time they were in Akatsuki together. He remembers the way Orochimaru had looked at him, the repulsion he had felt at those invasive looks, and the Mangekyou flares, insistent.

Hello, Itachi, Orochimaru says in that voice, and Itachi thinks, I should have killed him back then. He had wanted to, eventually, but that would have been against one of Akatsuki's few rules, so he had not. That has only led to unnecessary trouble.

Orochimaru's grin revolts Itachi, and the Mangekyou grows persistent. Itachi says, you are the reason my brother was so weak, and does not say, I wanted to kill you then or you are still afraid of my superior strength.

Kisame attacks with one of his water jutsu and follows up with Samehada just as Kakuzu attacks with an earth jutsu. Orochimaru dodges and summons snakes in response, and Itachi notes how slow Orochimaru seems to be. He continues to watch the battle, and nothing Orochimaru does impresses Itachi. Even Sasuke provided a bit more of a challenge.

Itachi is growing bored, and the Mangekyou is burning relentlessly. He maneuvers himself near Orochimaru, then waits for the split second lull in the battle and uses Amaterasu. The black flames satisfy the cruelty raging in his blood, and he thinks that someone with as weak of a body as Orochimaru deserves to die.

Itachi feels the drain on his chakra after he uses Amaterasu. He can feel his eyes fade to their original black, and everything becomes much less defined and vivid, not much more than faint lines and strokes of color. Itachi turns and starts to leave because he must not appear weak before Hidan and Kakuzu. He cannot allow anyone beside Kisame to see him when he is weak.

Kisame knows, of course, and he follows Itachi after informing Hidan and Kakuzu that they are leaving. Hidan does not respond, deep in his after-battle ritual, and Kakuzu merely makes a motion of affirmation. Itachi feels Kisame's chakra signature move toward him and draw up beside him, and as much as he hates admitting it, he would not want to be weak like this without Kisame near him. He has come to rely on Kisame during times like these, and he is weak for it.

They do not stop until they are beyond the borders of the Land of Rice Fields. Itachi may not have much chakra left, but that does not mean he is too weak to travel. They find a rather plain inn in which to stay, tucked away in a corner of a civilian village. Kisame watches for anyone following them while Itachi books a room, and the innkeeper, who could almost resemble Uruchi-obasan if Itachi squints hard enough, all too willingly obliges them, smiling fondly at Itachi all the while.

The room is big enough, a table and two chairs in a corner and two beds in the middle of the room. Kisame leaves to buy food and, at the same time, to watch for trackers following them, and Itachi lies on one of the beds. His eyes feel empty and hollow, and he despises himself for showing any weakness. What chakra he has left flows restlessly, also irritated, and Itachi closes his eyes and watches Orochimaru die again.

Itachi awakens when he hears the door click as it shuts. He can detect the faint wisp of Kisame's chakra signature in the area of the table and smell the food that Kisame has brought. Itachi-san, Kisame calls to him. Itachi opens his eyes and still cannot feel anything but emptiness.

It is night, and the only light in the room is not strong enough to allow Itachi to see with great contrast. He can see the lines of the beds, though, great big beige blocks, and he can see Kisame standing in the corner, a blur of blue and black and red. Itachi knows Kisame knows he can barely see, but Kisame also knows he despises weakness, so Kisame will not help him unless he asks, and Itachi never will.

Once he reaches the table, Kisame tells him what he bought for them, pointing to each dish as he names it. And I got you some dango, Itachi-san, Kisame says. Itachi knows that without needing to be told, and he finds that tonight, he has no appetite for even dango.

Kisame, Itachi says, cutting Kisame off, and before Kisame can respond, Itachi is kissing him. He should be ashamed that he knows Kisame's body so intimately, but Itachi has already been so extraordinarily weak tonight that one more act of weakness will not matter. He can despise himself for it tomorrow, when his chakra has returned and he can use the Sharigan again.

Kisame responds with the ease of an old lover, and everything about Kisame is familiar against Itachi's lips and fingers. Kisame's skin is that familiar rough texture, his teeth sharp as ever, and Itachi digs his nails into Kisame's back and lets go.

06.12.01