Gai's Very Own Eternal Rival

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Note: This takes place during Gaara's abduction.

"Ah, we meet again, Maito Gai, the Bizarre Beast of Konoha!" Kisame declared dramatically. "I've been waiting three years for this." It was finally time to pay the bizarre Green Beast of Konoha back for his humiliation which – although Itachi claimed innocence – everyone in the Akatsuki seemed to know about.

"…I'm sorry, do I know you?" Gai asked, confused.

"Or course you know me!" Kisame said indignantly. "You kicked me and then Kakashi said 'do the world a favor; kick a stupid person'!"

"Yes, that does indeed sound like my eternal rival," Gai confirmed. "He's so hip! One day, I hope to someday achieve his level of coolness!"

"We're not here to talk about him," Kisame said, irritated.

"We're not?" Gai asked. "Oh, then we're here to fight!"

"Well, yes," Kisame admitted. "But not until you admit that you can remember me! God knows if I don't Itachi will never let me live it down as everyone's heard of him."

"Uchiha Itachi?" Gai instantly recognized the name. "That is the older brother of my eternal rival's runaway student and the man who took on Asuma, Kurenai, and Kakashi all at once!"

Kisame groaned. "And if he ever finds out that you can remember him he'll have that written on my tombstone. I can see it now: 'Here lies the forgettable half-fish.'"

"You know," Gai said, peering intently at him. "I wasn't going to say anything, but you DO look an awful lot like a fish. And are those gills I see? Most unyouthful."

"I'm not a fish!" Kisame growled.

"I know," Gai agreed readily.

"You do?" Kisame asked, unable to believe that someone would agree so easily.

Gai nodded. "Of course; I said you're a half-fish."

"I'm NOT a half-fish or a full-fish or any other kind of fish!" Kisame insisted.

"But…the unyouthful gills…" Gai was getting confused.

"I'm part shark. SHARK. Not fish, shark," Kisame stressed.

"Sharks are fish," Neji called helpfully.

"No one asked you, freaky-eyes," Kisame bit back.

"You think having a doujutsu means you have freaky eyes?" Tenten asked innocently.

"Yes," Kisame confirmed.

"Doesn't your partner have a doujutsu if he's an Uchiha?" she continued.

Kisame nodded reluctantly.

"Do you call him 'freaky eyes'?" she pressed.

"I would…if I didn't think he'd kill me for it," Kisame confessed. "But enough of this foolishness! Maito Gai, you will remember me if it kills you!"

"Isn't the expression normally 'you will do such and such if it kills me'?" Gai corrected.

'It is," Kisame agreed. "But it wouldn't do me very much good if I died, now would it?"

"Deliberately mangling expressions is most unyouthful," Gai said mournfully.

"I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUTH!" Kisame shouted.

Gai flinched. "Do not listen to him children, he is just bitter that his time has passed."

Kisame took a deep calming breath. "Okay, you remember when Itachi was in Konoha, right?"

"Oh yes, it was a most youthful battle," Gai agreed, his eyes shining. "Uchiha Itachi may be evil, but the flames of youth were burning brightly in him!"

"…Right," Kisame said. "Do you remember when that happened?"

Gai thought a little. "It was only a few days after the Sandaime's funeral, wasn't it? Right after Naruto-kun and Jiraiya-sama had gone off to find Tsunade-sama to be the Hokage?"

"I'm not actually sure what was going on in Konoha then," Kisame admitted. "So let's go with that. The Kyuubi brat wasn't there anyway, so you're probably right."

"What does he mean by 'Kyuubi brat', Sensei?" Lee spoke up.

"Do not worry about it," Gai instructed. "He is just being unyouthful again." Lowering his voice he continued, "Shame on you for trying to blow Naruto-kun's secret!"

"Hello? I'm evil. I'm also trying to kill him," Kisame pointed out. "I don't really care."

"You are truly the most un-hip person I've ever met," Gai said sadly.

"Great, first I'm unyouthful, then I'm a half-fish, and now I'm un-hip," Kisame complained. "If you're going to insult me, can you at least remember me?"

"It's not like I don't remember you on purpose," Gai defended. "You just clearly didn't leave much of an impression."

"But…but you just said I'm the most unyouthful person you ever me! Shouldn't that stick with the most youth-obsessed person in existence?" Kisame demanded.

"I thank you for your kind words!" Gai beamed.

"That wasn't supposed to be a compliment…" Kisame muttered, but Gai paid him no mind. "Anyway, that day, back in Konoha?"

"Ah yes, what about it?" Gai asked politely.

"What do you recall happening that day?" Kisame asked, struggling to be patient. He just bet Zetsu was watching this right now and was recording it to show it to the other members later. He was giant and blue with a big-ass sword! Why was that so difficult to remember?!?! Itachi – while almost universally regarded as ridiculously good-looking – had far less distinguishing features, so why was he always the one people noticed? Red eyes weren't THAT cool…Although they were rather striking…

"Well," Gai began, thinking back. "I woke up at 4:30 as per usual and met up with my most youthful pupil Lee at 5:00. We then began scaling the Hokage monument blindfolded using only our knees, which took a little longer than we expected and then-"

"I didn't ask for a complete play-by-play," Kisame interrupted.

"Really?" Gai asked, surprised. "Because I could have sworn-"

"Just tell me what happened when you saw Itachi," Kisame directed.

"Right," Gai acknowledged. "I was taking a most youthful lunch break and was heading towards the Dango stand as Anko said they had gotten a new menu when I saw a fight taking place a little while up on the road. Naturally, I investigated and saw that it was an actual battle and not a spar. Once I showed up, Uchiha Itachi apparently decided that was too public of a spot and too many people were showing up so he decided to leave. Asuma and Kurenai were okay, but Kakashi was clearly delirious and muttered something about how he wanted to kick a stupid person. I took him to the hospital and that was the end of it."

"Kakashi didn't WANT to kick a stupid person," Kisame corrected, eye twitching. "You did."

"You realize that you're admitting to be stupid, right?" Neji inquired helpfully.

"No one asked you, kid," Kisame shot back.

"I'm aware of that," Neji replied cheerfully. Or cheerfully for him, anyway, which wasn't much by anyone else's standards and downright suicidal by Lee and Gai's. "But I believe that it's important to be self-aware so I'm offering that up for free."

"Seriously, kid, go die," Kisame spat.

Gai gasped. "Threatening one's students because one is losing a fight is most unyouthful," he admonished.

"We haven't started fighting yet!" Kisame burst out.

"You're the one who wants to reminisce about that time your partner and I met three years ago," Gai reminded him.

"I was there too!" Kisame ground out.

"I don't recall," Gai admitted.

"You kicked me in the face!" Kisame finally revealed his long-buried shame.

"Did I?" Gai asked blankly.

"Yes, that's what prompted Kakashi's 'stupid people' line," Kisame elaborated.

"I was wondering about that…but then again, he had just been on the receiving end of Uchiha Itachi's genjutsus, so it would make sense that he were a little out of it. Besides," Gai continued, "I think that's the kind of thing I'd remember."

"Yeah, you'd think," Kisame agreed. "But clearly it isn't."

"Are you SURE you were there?" Gai asked. "Maybe you're thinking of some other time."

"Some other time that the two of us met? It wouldn't matter if I was since you claim you can't remember me at all," Kisame pointed out. "It was that time, though. You remember that Itachi was there and he's my partner. If he was there than I was there."

"When you say you must have been there because your 'partner' war," Tenten said slowly, loathe to interrupt the slow progression towards battle since they were kind of in a hurry but feeling compelled to anyway, "do you mean that you go everywhere together?"

Kisame shot her an 'are you stupid' look. "That's what being partners means in Akatsuki."

"Are you sure you're talking about combat partners?" Tenten asked. "Because it kind of sounds like you're a couple."

Kisame choked. "Wh-he was seventeen for God sake! And when we met he was thirteen!"

"And you're evil," she reminded him. "Is that supposed to make a difference?"

"Even evil has standards!" Kisame insisted. "I'm twelve years older than he is!"

"That is a youthful stance to take," Gai decided.

"So, does that you mean you remember me now?" Kisame asked hopefully.

"Sorry, I don't," Gai said apologetically.

"Gai-Sensei!" Lee gasped, realizing something.

"Yes, Lee?" Gai asked.

"The half-fish guy seems to have declared you his eternal rival!" Lee announced.

"I'm not a half-fish," Kisame reminded them.

Gai froze. His very own eternal rival? That was…that was just so… "This is officially the most youthful day of my life!" he exclaimed, tears of joy running down his face. "Now I am one step closer to catching up with my very own eternal rival!"

"I...I am not your eternal rival!" Kisame protested.

"You're not?" Gai asked quizzically. "But you're making up stories about meetings that never happened to get my attention. That's either the mark of a dedicated eternal rival or else very sad and pathetic."

Kisame, ever mindful of Zetsu probably laughing his ass off in a tree somewhere as he recorded his 'epic' confrontation, thought about it for maybe half a second. What did it take to get some respect around here? "Fine."

"But Gai-Sensei," Lee spoke up again. "If the half-fish guy-"

"STOP CALLING ME THAT!" Kisame yelled.

"You never told us your name," Gai pointed out, quick to defend his prized pupil. "So what else are we supposed to call you?"

"Kisame! My name is Kisame!" Kisame hurriedly introduced.

"See, if you had just said that from the beginning, we wouldn't have had this problem," Gai told him.

"I told you my name last time," Kisame muttered.

"We've already established that you weren't really there, so that doesn't count," Gai replied.

"I was SO there," Kisame said petulantly.

"What were you saying Lee?" Gai asked, pointedly ignoring his opponent.

"If Kisame," Lee began again, stressing the name so he wouldn't get interrupted again, "has never met you and he's clearly not from Konoha so why would he declare you're his eternal rival?"

"Good question, Lee," Gai said automatically. He always told his students they had good questions, even if they weren't, such as the 'Why do you insist on giving Lee so much false hope' questions Neji used to ask. Honestly, if Naruto hadn't knocked some sense into his troubled student, he didn't know WHAT he would have done. But it probably wouldn't have been legal. "Clearly my reputation precedes me."

"I had never heard of you before the first time we met," Kisame countered. "Sorry to dash your dreams."

"But you knew my name when you jumped out at us," Gai pointed out. "Even if you did get my title wrong…"

"We DIDN'T meet today! Haven't you been listening?" Kisame demanded. "You know what, never mind. Let's just fight!"

"Fine by me," Gai said agreeably, finally seeing the appeal in having his own eternal rival. Really, he should have tried this years ago…

Note: Poor Kisame; he never gets any respect. I'm sure he's not nearly this much of a butt monkey in canon (he is one of the only surviving Akatsuki members, after all), but it's just so easy to make him one… And it's about time Gai got his own eternal rival. :P

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