'The Meaning of Sacrifice'

KisaIta (loooooooooooooooong overdue but I said to myself: Self! You will finish it today damn your eyes! )

For: The Parents. Mako75 our dear Daddeh and Master of the Rebels a.k.a. Wolfgirl37. XD I hope this slakes your KisaIta thirsts…(yeah right XD)

Warning: It gets angsteh, but happy ending, so yay! WY DO I KEEP DOING THIS TO MYSELF? Every time I say to myself: Self you will write something pointless, I END UP WITH FREAKING PLOT!!1!1111 ANGSTEH PLOT! :U *hisses at self* Boo!

Rated: M/ NC 17….This is also for all those who are tired of Itachi being the bad guy. He's such a sweetheart here. =3

Beta'd: Darkalbino XD

****These are the times that try men's souls ****


"Damn it, Sasuke, don't do this!" Itachi was near his breaking point. His calm voice had risen and was on the edge of cracking with frustration. His hair, once so lustrous, was now long and limp with poor care and factory fumes. He was thin…as was everything else in their lives.

"You can't stop me, brother."

The elder of the two paused at the finality in Sasuke's voice and realized that all the months of quarrelling had come to this. The gloom in the small apartment was shot through by moonlight, one of their few luxuries these days, and one of the tiny beams illuminated the pale face of his baby brother, rendering it gaunt.

'Sasuke… please..." Itachi tried again, shutting his tired eyes and bracing himself unto the worn wooden table. Dear God, he hated that word…he hated having to plead for anything. It wasn't the Uchiha way.

He snorted dryly; like the Uchiha way counted for much these days.

Sasuke abruptly turned away and in the dinky kitchen there was silence. It seemed the 'please' had slapped Sasuke in the face as well.

A beat.

"I'm sorry, nii-san...but I can't let you suffer like this anymore."

"Damn it, otouto!" A strength Itachi knew he didn't truly have fueled his body into action. Rage and frustration pulsed through his veins as he rounded the table, crossed over the muted linoleum floor and in two strides grasped the slender arms of his sibling. "I'm your brother, goddamnit! I'm not-"

"Don't you dare say you're not suffering!" Sasuke hissed venomously. In the were-light his black eyes glittered like poison. "Don't you dare lie to me, big brother!"

The Dutch strength left the elder of the two and his shoulders sagged under the weight of his failures. Accusations and self recriminations swam before his eyes, all cursing at him for what he was allowing to happen.

"Sasuke...baby brother..." he swallowed painfully, "listen to me. It has been…hard…"
The younger of the Uchiha's snorted and turned his head away bitterly. 'Hard' was a trite, meaningless word to the things they had gone through… 'Hard' couldn't encompass the shame of their father's imprisonment, 'hard' didn't rectify the times they had slept in the houses of cruel cousins while their mother was spat on by their uncles. 'Hard' didn't come remotely close to encompassing the struggles Itachi put himself under day after day just to keep their noses above the cold water of reality.

"But listen to me," Itachi whispered again. He was getting desperate now and he knew his discomfort showed in his eyes. "I'm your brother…your big brother…I'm the one who's supposed to make these sa-"

Sasuke snapped his head back around. "No!' he grated out between clenched teeth. "Dear God, Itachi, can't you see? I'm doing this for you-"

"If you were doing anything for me then you'd stay in school!" the twenty-four year old yelled. It seemed the anger was back. "You'd go to college and finish you education, like you were always meant to and –" he broke off abruptly.

'Like I didn't get to…' It wasn't said but the aborted phrase hung in the air like a cruel miasma.

Sasuke turned to his brother and for the first time in a long while stepped into the circle of his big brother's arms. He pressed tight to the figure an inch shorter than him. Itachi's almost shaking arms encircled the taller Uchiha's shoulders and they stood in silence.

The stress and pain of his day, of his life…were crawling up his throat like sick bile. Though he kept his face as impassive as stone, he felt his world spin and his stomach drop… In hindsight, he probably should have had something that morning instead of giving Sasuke the rest of the coffee and claiming he'd already had his.

But that was what big brothers did, and Itachi would be damned if the sin of being a bad brother was added to his soul.

"Think, foolish little brother…" Itachi mumbled into midnight hair the mirror image of his own. "What about Naruto?"

The eighteen-year old stiffened at the mention of his boyfriend. "He…he'll understand."

Spying a crack in Sasuke's armor, he pressed forward. "You both worked so hard to get into Law school, Sasuke…don't you think he'll be disappointed that all your hard work and his sweat and tears were for nothing?"

Sasuke wavered visibly and turned his stricken face away. Itachi knew that his brother was picturing his blond lover's stricken blue eyes and worried face. Itachi allowed himself to hope that Sasuke had relented.

"…We can't pay the tuition." The voice was small, bitter. He had a right to be. Their futures had been so bright once, a long time ago before everything had been stolen. Since that fateful day when the police had turned up on the Uchiha Manor and nineteen-year old Itachi had been forced to deregister himself from Engineering School and gone to work to support his thirteen-year old brother.

Not even for one second of the long years to follow had he regretted his decision.

And he wasn't about to regret this next one.

"Yes…we can," he spoke softly.

Sasuke's head shot up with surprised hope. "W-what...but the...how?"

Itachi's slight smile was soft in the half light. "I got word from the bank today. They'll approve the loan."

Sasuke blinked, his expressive dark eyes shimmering in suppressed joy. "They will?"

"Yes," he lied.

Sasuke pulled away, blinking in shock as a whole world of opportunities he hadn't dared allow himself to hope for flickered into reality before his eyes.

"You're sure, Itachi? Because—I still think I should just find a job and help you-"

"I'm sure, otouto no baka." Itachi forced a parody of a smirk unto his face. Oh dear God, what was he doing? Why was he allowing Sasuke to hope like this when the overwhelming odds were that he'd simply fail his dear sibling again?

The younger of the two pulled away, a fierce love glittering in his eyes. "…Thank you, Aniki."

Itachi nodded, acknowledging the deep respect that Sasuke was according him by his use of the ancient honorific.

"You should tell Naruto the news…I'm sure he'll be overjoyed."

Sasuke's lips quirked as he thought of his hyperactive blond. "Yes, he will be, won't he? Dobe will probably use it as an excuse to shove ramen down my throat….and his." He turned back from his memories, eyes contemplative. "Do you mind...if I spend the night with him…I...he'll want to celebrate and…" he trailed off, blushing.

Itachi really did smirk this time. The thought of his tough-as-nails brother submitting to the hyper, six foot blond was amusing to no end. "Of course not. Take your keys though, I…I'll be gone early tomorrow morning….to the bank."

Sasuke nodded and with a final brush of his fingers over his brother's face, fled the room.

In silence, Itachi watched through the half open door of a bedroom as Sasuke shoved some clothes into an overnight bag, grabbed his keys, and tugged on his worn trainers.

He simply smiled when Sasuke turned to nod farewell.

The door closed…and Itachi forced himself to fall into a hard kitchen chair before his knees gave out completely.

He sank into the hard chair and slowly allowed his head to fall between his hands. He examined them as much as his poor sight would allow. Slender pianist fingers that hadn't touched ivory keys in years were roughened by work and hardship. Itachi's ears rang in the silent darkness, the nausea having long crawled up into his throat, and his head felt light and detached from his being. So many things had gone wrong and as Itachi sat there in the poor, hopeless dark he gave into an urge that he had felt many a time in the last years but never indulged.

He allowed his tender hands to cradle his feverish head… he let his hair fan out around his body…silently and sufficiently covered from reality…Itachi Uchiha cried.


These places made his hackles rise.

Oh, how he loathed office buildings; these high, monstrous abominations of glass, and steel and hypocrisy.

He curled his palms tight into fists but kept his face as blank as a slate. The office building was in 'The Mint'; a sly name coyly given to the industrial capital of Konohagakure and, indeed, the trading centre of the Five Nations. This was the playground of the obscenely, nauseatingly rich and as he pressed the button and waited for the elevator to arrive, Itachi was painfully aware that this was no longer his world.

His reality was a two-bedroom apartment in South Side, juggling two steady jobs and various odd ones just to make ends meet. His reality was the carefully chosen dark jeans and the soft black silk shirt- lone, precious remnants of a life long gone. His reality was—

The elevator door opened and as the flood of three-piece-suited backstabbers and hypocrites jabbering into phones at secretaries rushed out, Itachi raised his head defiantly.

His reality was a clean, warm home; Spartan yes, but comfortable. His reality was food worked for with honest hands and blessed by a clean conscience, unlike these high brow capitalists who killed by proxy. His reality was an iron clad loyalty and unbreakable bond with his brother cemented over a small dinner table unlike these fools who barely saw their family thrice a year. He had nothing to be ashamed about.

The ride up to the forty-seventh floor was silent—amazingly—not broken by anyone else entering the small cubicle. The long-haired brunet was grateful. He needed to gather himself.

The lift ejected him at the second highest floor in the building, jerking with a sickening lurch as though to eject the unworthy being inside. Itachi sneered.

The hallway was luxurious, carpeted in deep royal blue and trimmed with burnt gold piping. Soft beige walls corralled off five large cubicles, the working space of personal assistants to the higher-ups. The one he wanted was at the very end right beside the personal elevator to the President's floor. Screened from the rest by a frosted glass door, Itachi evenly took in the deep gold writing.

'Yamanaka Ino. Assistant to the President'

He grit his teeth as painful acceptance crashed down on him. He knocked.

"Enter," came a distracted female voice from within.

Distracted indeed.

Itachi opened the door but stepped into the tasteful baroque space no further. The woman was slender, blond and looked painfully efficient. He knew the type. Ivy League Graduates and paranoid organizers with not a hair out of place. Dark suit perfectly tailored, make-up professionally done and PDA sharper and more accurate than probably the Emperor's. One could probably set their biological clock by her.

She glanced up from the three notepads open before her, slight interest lighting her eyes but, professionally, she said nothing.

"May I help you…sir?"

Ah, of course….no Armani business suit equals immediate derision. Another reason he hated females.

"Put me through to Hoshigaki Kisame." His voice was controlled and broke no foolishness. He approached the situation like he already owned the place…just like dear old Fugaku – may he rot in hell- had taught him.

Her disdainful expression turned incredulous then condescending; like one who was forced to harbor a mental patient. Her face didn't budge from polite interest –she was too professional for that- but the scorn was clear as day in her summer-blue eyes.

"I apologize, sir, but do you have an appointment?" She frowned down at her PDA as though she didn't already know full well that there was no such listing. Itachi wanted to strangle her.

"I believe I have a standing invitation."

That raised her perfectly trimmed brows a fraction and Itachi smirked-inwardly of course- at the childish victory.

"I see." Plain disbelief and exasperation this time. Did this fool not realize how expressive her eyes were? "May I have a name?"


"Uchiha Itachi."

He gritted his teeth even harder –Lord, it was a wonder his jaw wasn't numb- as she sat back in her chair, wicked scorn and victory dancing rampant over her face as she stared at the fallen heir. But of course she knew who he was; every assistant worth their salt did.

"My apologies, Uchiha-san," her voice had gone sickly sweet in her one-upmanship, "but Kisame left no such orders with me."

Itachi was stunned voiceless by her rudeness.

Who in the hell did this bitch think she was? Her voice and attitude screamed American. She had to be; otherwise she would know the disrespect it was to call a Japanese man, and her superior to boot, by his first name in private much less to an unknown. A glimmer in her eyes stopped him cold though. He had a feeling she knew exactly what she was doing. What the hell was she trying to imply? That she and Kisame were more than friends? If so, then a stranger was the last person who needed to know about her affairs. Either she was being blatantly rude or she was just that much of an educated dunce.

"Should you consult him you would find-"

"I'm sorry." No nonsense this time. "He is in a meeting."

The elder Uchiha was torn between snorting incredulously at the standard excuse and simply walking out of the place with his pride –or what was left of it- intact.

Sasuke's hopeful face flashed through his mind and gave his flight reactions pause.

He stared emotionlessly into her eyes and slowly, deliberately raised a brow.

She shifted in- guilt?- but glared back.

"He truly is in a meeting! Now, if you will excuse me, I have important matters to attend to. I will have Karin escort you to the-"


It was one of those moments where time was supposed to stop and the whole world was supposed to narrow down to the deep timbre of that once so familiar voice. Itachi was supposed to feel faint and his mind was to spin back into memories of warm sheets and hard arms.

So much for the piety of pulp fiction.

Itachi felt nothing but calm –a somewhat detached indifference as though his mind didn't (or simply refused to) recognize the voice - as he shifted slightly on the balls of his feet and turned to behold the speaker.

In their standoff, neither battling party had heard the elevator open. Itachi paid for his lack of awareness now as he viewed- standing regally among four other men- the man of the hour.

Hoshigaki Kisame was literally more electrocutive to one's senses than a raging lightning storm.

The son of a Japanese business mogul and a Nigerian supermodel, the six foot five male was built like Zeus himself, his muscular but lean body perfectly wrapped in a knife edge Hugo Boss suit. That, however, was as far as the President of Depth Perception, the leading hydroelectric provider in the five nations, got to being anything even remotely close to conventional.

Even in college, where Itachi had first seen him, the nineteen-year old racial hybrid had stood out like a wild, tempestuous beacon among the murk of the mundane, the sickening, and obsequious ordinary. He was toxic, hazardous and everything scared mothers had cautioned their good little Japanese girls to run far, far away from. His being embodied the stereotype and surpassed it; burning a category for himself among the simple minds of the fools who sought to categorize him. Itachi had never felt so intoxicated, entranced, and sweetly poisoned by another human in all his life.

Like then, now Itachi stood rooted to the floor as though some malicious being has snatched his ability to move from him and left him helpless. Kisame was the same…the same but so, so much better. There was still the same smooth, dark addictive skin. Still the same royal blue hair falling into chunky spiked layers over aristocratically cut cheekbones. The same powerful neck, the same weight-of-the-world holding shoulders, the same slender waist and defined trunk. The same training-honed legs…the same warrior-strong hands….

"Ino…cancel my meetings for the evening."

"S-Sir? But the meeting with the mayor-"

"Is nothing to me. Not now. Cancel it." Itachi knew Kisame was staring at him. He knew, damn it, but he couldn't meet that gaze. Not now...not ever.

A shuffle of bodies and the old, wrinkled men Kisame had been meeting with shuffled past the Uchiha with dark, suspicious glances and scornful derision. Men that had once eaten at Fugaku's dinner table and pandered to his every command now sneered at his son and smirked with malicious glee.

Nothing on this earth did humans love more than a fallen icon.

The hallway became silent. Oppressive silence ruled and neither Itachi nor the shocked over-glorified secretary dared to break it.

The Uchiha should have remembered that Kisame followed no rules but his own.


The long-haired man flinched.

Damn. Seems he wasn't as immune to that voice as he thought he'd be.

"Please," the other male continued, "come with me."

The elevator ride was to the privet presidential suite above was a floor short and an eternity long. Itachi kept his gaze firmly on the flashing lift lights and nowhere else. This was all too surreal; far too damn surreal. He couldn't fucking believe this was happening after all his efforts to put this past life- this person- behind him.

So distraught were his mental faculties that it took all his efforts to step out of the lift and into the small antechamber. He could spare none of his limited mental powers on caring about the stylish décor of the interior. Itachi allowed his gaze to stray to the large bay windows displaying the stunning skyline of a bright Konoha morning and steeple high rise towers glinting enchanted silver in the sunlight.

The silence was awkward but Itachi was lost in his own mind. Memories were coming to him thick and fast now. Images of days when he was haughtier; as cold, as self-centered as everyone else who resided in these types of buildings flickered through his mind's eye and he cringed at the thought of what kind of human he would have become had his family not been humbled.

"Scotch?" Itachi tuned to the taller man who was standing, body vibrating with barely suppressed anxiety, against the bar.

Alcohol? Sure, why not? He'd need some liquid courage for what he was about to do anyway.

"Straight," he half whispered back.

A strong, dark hand pressed the crystal tumbler of amber liquid into his hands. He had almost forgotten how tactile Kisame was. The man loved to touch- interesting fabrics, faceted gems…warm, sated skin.

Quickly, Itachi pulled back- from both the thought and the touch. He closed his eyes and threw back the liquid, reveling in the hot burn that shot down his throat. Not one to put off the inevitable, he opened his eyes and, for the first time, stared Kisame dead in the eyes.

'Love,' Itachi reminded himself, 'is stronger than pride…even Uchiha pride.'

Kisame's eyes were open and deep; his gaze roved over the slender form that he hadn't seen in five years.


"I need your help," The Uchiha cut him off…and Christ if saying those words didn't feel like regurgitating broken glass. It pained him. Itachi hated admitting weakness or failure. He despised it with every fiber of his being and the self-revulsion that swept over him made his head spin.

Kisame shut up immediately. His ears were ringing. There was no way that Itachi- his Itachi- would have ever willingly uttered those words. Something must be horribly wrong.

The chirp of a ringing cell erupted, explosive like, from his pocket.

Seconds passed.

Itachi smiled bitterly. "Aren't you going to answer?"

In response, Kisame- without breaking eye contact- took the slender object from his pocket and deftly shut it off. He didn't care if the fucking building was collapsing in around them. Itachi had asked for help and nothing else mattered to him now.

He stepped forward, large hands coming up in a semi-movement as though to reach out and grasp Itachi's face. The brunet flinched way and the arm fell back. So close- less than a foot part- but separated by so much pain and uncertainty.

"How can I help?" He swore to himself that if the slight form asked for the moon he'd damn well find a way to get it.

Itachi saw the resolution in the taller man's eyes and felt something crack inside his soul. He knew then that he could have demanded a blood ransom and Kisame would simply offer his arms. It was this power that he had over this fearsome man that had made Itachi run far, far away from him in the first place. He didn't deserve that kind of loyalty- he didn't know what to do with it.

In a moment of sheer panic he felt his walls crumble down around him in a shattered wreck. He couldn't do this. He couldn't! Blindly, he turned to run away- he needed to get far from those eyes, this room and this life.

A warm hand on his arm stopped him in place and an image of Sasuke stayed his steps. He was being ridiculous. What was his pride in comparison to Sasuke's life? Nothing. He would sacrifice it- willingly.

"Itachi…tell me…If I can, I will…please." It was the pleading edge to the deep voice that sealed the deal.

Burning with humiliation, the proud man turned back to face his ex-lover.

"I need- I…" he swallowed painfully. "Sasuke, he…" he swayed nauseously. "Sasuke needs something that I can't provide. He- I…" Fuck, this was hard. He closed his eyes and let go.

"He needs to go to school and I can't afford it." He opened his eyes. "I need a loan."

There. Fuck. There! He'd said it! His pride- the last thing he truly owned- lay shattered on the floor like so much worthless glass. He glanced up….Kisame already had a checkbook in his hand.

"How much?"

This was surreal. His ears were ringing. "Eighty thousand… For some reason, Sasuke wants to be a prosecutor." His voice was distant to his own ears but he made himself continue. He'd be damned before he failed his brother again.

A rectangle of paper was being pressed into his hand. Itachi tore his attention from the warm body in front of him to the slip.

His eyes widened.

"A hundred and sixty thousand! You're insane, I can't-"

"Yes, you can." There was steel in Kisame's voice now. A purpose wrapped up in mad determination was glinting in his eye.

"For the other expenses as well; law school is no joke. Where'd he get into?"

"Yale," Itachi replied softly. "Our old alma mater," his lips twitched bitterly. "Or, well, yours at any rate."


"I'll contact you with the details for repayment-"

Kisame's eyes widened and his hands reached up. "You don't-"

Itachi stepped back, eyes narrowed and pulse thumping. "No! No way in hell." And he meant it too. He'd rip this to shreds before accepting charity. "I will repay you." And he'd do it too…somehow.

"No- I simply meant-" Kisame sighed before closing his eyes and scrubbing his hands over his face- undignified, yes, but Itachi always frustrated him to death.

"Have dinner with me tomorrow?" He ventured finally.

Itachi gritted his teeth. How could he refuse without sounding ungrateful? He couldn't, so with a sharp nod he agreed. A flood of relief washed over the handsome, dark face and in two strides Kisame was invading his personal space again. The soft electricity that always existed between them sparkled to a hesitant life and Itachi felt his breath quicken. That chest of Kisame's always did strange things to his control.

A card was pressed into Itachi's other hand before the gentle fingers took a hold of Itachi's arm and a thumb ran softly over the muscle.

"…Akatsuki Café at one….'Tachi….I've missed you."

Shit; Kisame's voice had gone velvet soft and resolve-melting. Itachi gritted his teeth against the desire - an emotion so long dead in him that it felt foreign- that threatened to wash over his senses. Kisame's cologne was dark and musky in his nose and the entire room had jolted and narrowed down to two forms and rapidly increased breathing.

Itachi fled.

Kisame raised his hand but it was only in time to snag unto the raven's hair tie and accidentally yank the leather thong out. Hair was falling in waves over his neck and back but Itachi didn't stop.

"Itachi- wait!" But he was already in the elevator and was pressed, trembling, against the door. The brushed metal doors slid shut on Kisame's grim face.

The young Uchiha looked neither to the left nor the right as he strode- almost at a run – through the corridors. His hair flared out behind him in a hip length curtain but Itachi didn't dare stop to put order to the chaos. He had to leave this place before he was stripped of his sanity as well as his pride.

He hit the bottom floor at a run and burst out into the sunshine of the Konoha Street gasping for air. His legs didn't stop until he was far, far away from the source of his pain and self-loathing


In a few hours, when he had calmed down, shame would descend like a waterfall upon his head. He didn't know what the hell he had done to convince himself that he would have been prepared to meet Kisame. A year of preparation couldn't have readied him to face that storm again and he had nearly been ripped apart by the storm that was his former lover.

That night, in the darkness of the empty apartment- Sasuke had stayed over at Naruto's again- Itachi pressed his feverish head against the cool tile of the kitchen wall and began to gather the shreds of his resolve around him. He was a man, damn it- he wouldn't allow an old flame- even if he had been the love of his life- to render him into a useless whimpering mess again.

Despite his sexual preferences, Itachi Uchiha was no bitch.


Getting to lunch with Kisame had been an ordeal. His eyesight had acted up something fierce and a headache had blossomed between his brows as fiercely as if some malevolent god was pounding a hammer right on the frayed nerve ends of his mind. In the pain and semi-blindness –damn, he really needed to start saving for that corrective surgery he was to have had a couple years ago- Itachi had managed to stumble into some clothes –God help him if he knew what they were- and out the door.

Akatsuki Café wasn't hard to find and was situated in a pretty laid back area of town, despite the upscale clientele that it catered to. Semi-bistro style with a Jazz band and abstract sculptures scattered every here and there, the café was run by a blond that Itachi vaguely remembered from college. Deidara- as his nametag called him- was even more slender than Itachi (which was quite a feat, if Itachi did say so himself) – and completely obsessed with his co-worker. A man whom the blond insisted on calling-

"Sasori- danna! Kisa-kun's guest had arrived! Show him to his table, un?"

A grunt of assent later and Itachi was being maneuvered through quaint modernist tables to a private both near the back.

The leather seat was plush against him and gritting his teeth, Itachi stared defiantly into royal-blue eyes. Kisame was dressed down in clothes that probably cost twice Itachi's weeklies. Sasori deposited tall glasses of water and two menus with a glare that made Itachi wonder if he'd somehow managed to kill his cat.

"Ignore him," Kisame stated softly when Sasori had traipsed over to another table to throw eye-daggers at another poor couple. "His face is stuck that way."

Itachi snorted but- forcing himself into steely determination- he stared Kisame dead in the eyes.


"Let me see if I can predict what's going to happen in the next ten minutes. We're going to have The Awkward Conversation in which two persons from completely different worlds are – in the name of pleasantries- going to spend painful seconds inquiring about the wellbeing of family members and remarking on the weather. Then- after the long silence in which we both realize that this was a ghastly mistake- the topic of our past relationship is going to be brought up followed by either a, a plea to get together for old times' sake or b, painful inquiries as to why we broke up in the first place.

Somewhere between the caviar and the tartar you're going to realize that me talking about working as a store clerk is making you uncomfortable and your references to the goings on of High Street go right over my head. By the time we get to the ice cream interest in trivialities will be ignored and one of us will end up staring at the other's lips. The after-meal whisky is had at someone's apartment, followed by stunningly bad sex and the inability to meet the other's eyes and sometime between eleven and six am one will sneak out of the other's, abode shoes in hand and regret in heart. Life will go on and hopefully, we'll never see each other again.

So…did I get it right?"

Kisame, who had sat stunned through Itachi's small tirade- blinked and, to Itachi's complete amazement, smiled softly. The gentle expression made the full lips even more enticing and Itachi cursed himself silently for noticing.

"I had almost forgotten how much like a cat you are."

Itachi bristled.

"What is that supposed to mean?" He snapped acidly.

Sasori materialized out of nowhere, pen and order tabs in hand, eyes tripping from hostile to murderous. This time Itachi's glare was just as homicidal and seeing as he was busy stabbing his dinner companion with his eyes, he didn't see the faint smirk and glimmer of respect that flickered across the redhead's face.

"It means," Kisame stated softly after ordering the Tempura house special for them both, "that when you're in a situation you find uncomfortable, you strike out before you're struck. Like a cornered kitten."

Still blinking at the astuteness of Kisame's observation, Itachi didn't know whether to be more offended at the thought that someone had him all figured out or about his downgrading from cat to kitten.

Gazing at the patient face in front of him, Itachi stared wordlessly at the strong features that had always mesmerized him. His eyes were hurting but he gazed his fill of the high cheekbones the dark tribal tattoos under both eyes and the ring of sapphire stone piercings hugging the dark ears. Kisame had always told convention to kiss his ass and many a businessman had rued the day that they had allowed the punk tribal appearance to fool them into thinking Kisame was an idiot.

The man was beautiful with that soft, patient expression on his face and suddenly…suddenly Itachi was very, very tired. His spine softened, his eyes closed and the he felt the fight and pride slip out of his cells. As his body slumped over the voice in the back of his head that always sounded like his father- tormented him for his lack of control and his dearth of pride. Allowing such weakness to be visible was a sin punishable by death but the young Uchiha already felt like he was on death's doorway.

And then- a hand was in his hair. Large and calloused fingers were softly massaging the baby fine hair at the nape of his neck. Like a tired cat Itachi leaned into the rough touch that was massaging the trembling tensions out of his neck. Slowly, he opened his heavy eyes and found Kisame mere inches from his face. Luminescent blue eyes were brimming with concern and sympathy and ….Christ, he hadn't seen a loving gaze in years but the eyes in front of him were overflowing with it and it would take a man blinder than Itachi to not realize it.

He needed that contact; he was starved for it. Kisame had shifted his chair and was now so close that Itachi was feeling the hot pulses of body heat wafting from his larger form. It was so addictive and so very, very inviting, to just lean into those arms that were offering everything and just give in. He wanted to accept the release Kisame was offering, so help him God he wanted to accept.

Itachi turned his dark head into the large palm and closed his eyes as he pressed a kiss, solitary and soft into the hand. He savored the feel of the warm, musky skin and the grasp of the strong fingers. For a moment in time he allowed himself a weakness. Kisame's eyes were soft and liquid as he neared Itachi and the young Uchiha looked up, forlorn. He knew- even though Kisame did not- that it couldn't ever work between them.

He leaned forward and pressed a soft good-bye kiss to lips that hadn't touched his in years. Kisame's moan was deep and the Hoshigaki ran his rough tongue over the softer lips beneath his. Itachi opened just enough to allow the tip of the tongue to caress his inner lips before he was pulling away.


"Goodbye, Kisame. I won't forget you."

And Itachi Uchiha did what he thought was best- and left.


Like a machine on autopilot, he went to complete his shift as a bartender. The patrons that normally were always slapping his ass or flirting with him must have sensed a change in his mood that night because from the concerned looks he was getting one would think that someone had died.


Itachi faced Orochimaru silently. Many thought the snake-like man was a creep beyond compare but Itachi knew the brilliance that lurked behind hypnotic amber eyes. Orochimaru was soft-spoken and soft-footed and it was no surprise that the other man could creep so easily up on Itachi. For all intents and purposes however, Itachi's mind hadn't exactly been alert. All day he had felt the soft press of lips against his and it had nearly been his undoing.

"Yes, sir?"

Orochimaru reached out a slender hand and tucked a long, dark strand of wayward hair behind Itachi's ear.

"Go home, young one. You should…rest."

Normally, Itachi protested whenever anyone tried to force things like their opinions on his state of being upon him, but tonight he was out of his depth. From the second he had stepped outside of Akatsuki Café, Itachi had felt like an ice hand had breached his chest and was slowly spreading winter through his entire body. He felt numb inside and he just didn't have the energy to do anything but acquiesce to the man's request.

Silently, he packed up and headed home. The night was unseasonably cold for July but Itachi barely felt it. He barely felt the jostling of bodies on the subway and there was a low ringing in his ears that drowned out the traffic, humane, city sounds of south side. In the frost, prostitutes walked the street in mostly nothing, selling weary wares to the uptown business men who left their wives and children for a night of illicit pleasure. The asphalt leading up to the apartment was cold and puddled with anything from water to spilt alcohol.

Itachi made it to the doorway silently and ignored the cries and commotions of the couple down the hall who had had their apartment broken into. He closed the door- silence.

That night was to be the same as every night- brew tea, shower, brush hair, read until his mind shut down. Somewhere in between getting out of the shower and brushing his hair Itachi felt his eyes start to close and he collapsed unceremoniously unto the bed, a tangle of damp limbs and hair. He couldn't fight it and the susurrus of the dark and the city washed over him-

The night was whispering promises of comfort and recluse-

But- he couldn't…could he?

He couldn't afford to stop concentrating now- he had to brush his hair- get to work…Wait. What? Work? What did he mean work? He'd never worked a day in his life? Homework maybe? That's right! He had a paper on Ohm's Law and its application in hydroelectric plant circuitry due tomorrow and it was only half finished! He had to concentrate- he had to!

Wake up! He had a paper to finish and it counted for thirty percent of his term average- Wake up, damn it! WAKE –

Itachi sat up in bed with a desperate gasp, dragging air-conditioned oxygen into his tight lungs. His chest was burning and he fumbled for the glass of water he always kept on the mahogany bedside table. Wrapping his fingers around it, he gasped and nearly spluttered as he hurriedly gulped the water down his throat. God, he felt like someone had shoved a fiery ember right down his esophagus. He drank and drank until it felt like he was full of cool liquid from the bottom of his feet to his neck. Slowly- so slowly it was calming and Itachi thanked every deity out there for his mother's habits that he had picked up. That water had saved his life.

A soft rustle and a deep mumble alerted him to the presence of another. Itachi blinked and his sluggish mind churned valiantly to provide the information of just who was in his bed- or rather- whose bed he was in.

A yawn and an indistinct curse. "Fuck, it's early. You okay, babe? You sound like you're hacking up a lung."

Itachi snorted. Trust Kisame to be such a callous bastard right after they had mad lov-

Itachi stopped dead. That's right. Fuck, how on earth could he have forgotten? Yesterday evening, after HydroPhysics, Itachi had found himself cornered, up against a wall and pitifully grinding into the hard thigh of the darker male- just as Kisame had promised would happen if Itachi had dared to miss the Hoshigaki's swim meet.

Itachi had analyzed the situation and found that seeing Kisame, in a tight rubber nothing that didn't conceal any of his generous blessing, sluicing thorough the water like the shark he was named after, would have caused him to spontaneously orgasm. Ergo, rather than sacrifice his pride, Itachi had ditched the swim meet and gone for a remedial class that he didn't need to take anyway.

"You didn't come, little Uchiha."

Itachi tossed his head back and whimpered in his throat as the poison of Kisame's voice drugged him into a state of complete incoherency.

"I told you- I warned you that if you didn't come watch me, there'd be hell to pay." Sharp teeth glinted brightly in the dusky supply closet that Kisame had dragged him into.

Kisame's rock hard body pressed dangerously tighter and the Uchiha was pinned against a rough wall and an inflexible body. "What did I say would happen? Tell me."

Itachi gasped and moaned and shamelessly ground his aching shaft into the hard thigh that Kisame had so mercilessly- mercifully provided for the overheated male to ride.

Itachi remembered how absolutely fascinated he'd been when he'd seen the tall, tattooed, blue-haired boy stride through the prestigious Ivy League school in ripped jeans and a sweatshirt with a crude depiction of two dogs going at it. Kisame was fearsome, non-conservative and utterly unapologetic. Itachi had bitten his lip nearly clean through with the want to trace his tongue over the knife edge tribal tattoos, lap at the dark chocolate skin and tug at the uncut sapphire studs ringing his ears. The Uchiha heir had been hard and leaking against his Marc Jacobs when they had stood to walk out of the lecture hall. Kisame and he were the last ones to leave and Itachi had been shocked speechless when the six-foot seven giant had held unto him with on hand and roughly grabbed Itachi's painful shaft with the other.

"You should be more careful; I could smell you arousal across the room." Kisame's eyes had been half wild and Itachi had known then that he was more beast than man.

Now, three semesters, an odd friendship, and a shit-ton of unfulfilled lust later, Itachi trapped in the tiny closet with the man of his fantasies and happily repeated the words Kisame had half-threatened, half-teased.

"You said you'd spread me open, suck me raw," Itachi's voice hitched, "and fuck me unconscious."

Kisame had grinned and proceeded to drag Itachi to his room and do just that.

Now Itachi was sitting in bed, trying desperately to marshal his thoughts. Something was off, this was wrong. This couldn't be happening.

He and Kisame had broken up a long time ago….

Itachi glanced at the posh dorm room, the beige carpet, the designer clothing strewn everywhere, the stack of physics and engineering books scattering his desk and as high as his laptop…

No…he'd sold his laptop three years ago…the pages of the books were blank, indicative of the gaps in his memory…the edges of the room faded into white mist and ended in nowhere, inconsistent…ephemeral…

Kisame shifted again and deep blue eyes peered sleepily but concernedly at him.

"Baby? What's wrong?"

Kisame was missing a few piercings…and he still hadn't gotten the second set of tribal marks under his eyes. This was a younger Kisame...this was a room that no longer existed…this was-

"A dream," Itachi replied, letting the phrase answer both of the questions at hand. "All a dream," he added softly, sadly.

Kisame yawned again and chuckled huskily. "Poor baby, come here, I'll keep you safe."

Itachi allowed his eyes to roam over the body of his past...present lover. 'This is a dream,' he told himself. 'Enjoy it while you can.'

He shifted over to the other male and felt hard arms and silk sheets wrap around him. Kisame sleepily nuzzled his neck and lapped at a tender spot there. Itachi gasped as sharp teeth and wicked tongue sucked dark hickeys into his sensitive skin.

The words from so long ago came unbidden to his mouth. "Stop bruising me, you plebian."

Kisame snorted but bit sharply, "My apologies, your highness, allow this servant to make amends."

Itachi- falling into the personas of his old, haughty self struggled a bit as his current mindset warred with his memory. He had been such a bastard to Kisame when they were together, but his mind had other ideas and he was forced to parrot the words he had spoken so long ago.

"Hmph, at least you know your place." Itachi cringed inwardly as the wicked irony of who was now, in a better position bit cruelly at his heart but Kisame…Kisame only chuckled.

"As master demands."

Itachi was on his back now- his flesh was buried in deep mounds of silk and down and Kisame's hard, hot body pressing in from above. A hot mouth and sharp teeth began to traverse the expanse of his stomach while a slick tongue took umbrage with his navel and a merciless thrusting in and out of the small indentation began.

Kisame felt amazing above him; he was so hard and bulky, with muscles like iron and a chest that made Itachi quiver in tight, secret places. His mind- older than his body- was so starved for attention that Itachi felt each touch reroute itself twice along his neural pathways. Surely- surely- he had never been this sensitive? He arched and buckled and cried as a rough tongue- abrasive like a cats- began to lap long stripes up his shanks and inner thighs.

Suddenly, Kisame reared back and forced Itachi's leg back to rest on his chest, leaving the paler teen obscenely exposed. Kisame bent down and sank his animalistic teeth into the tender flesh behind his knee. It was an erogenous spot that Itachi hadn't known existed and his already thrumming body ratcheted up another notch. Fire and lightning seared his pleasure pathways to dust and Itachi was left gasping and unfocused.

"Kisa- Kisame!"

The grin was visible in the darkness as the man released the bitten flesh and moved up, pulling Itachi's leg straight up to start lapping and nipping at delicate looking ankles. A rough tongue dragged obscenely up his instep and a middle toe was engulfed in a wet mouth. For the life of him, Itachi would never have guessed that his toes were directly linked to his cock. The fellatio performed on his feet was making his rigid organ swell further and further, beyond limits of feeling and Itachi was now sure that his imagination was imposing itself over his memory.

Nothing could ever have felt this good.

Mercifully, Kisame released his ankle- only to sink his teeth into the flesh just below his navel. The sensations ricocheted straight down to his cock and back into his brain in a never ending sequence of pleasure that no human should have been made to feel.

Oddly enough, Kisame didn't speak much during sex. Deep chuckles and groans, yes, but no words- his mouth was usually occupied. The darker male had an oral fixation, the likes of which Itachi had never encountered or thought possible- Kisame licked, suckled, and kissed everything he could feasibly get into his mouth. Long minutes were spent as Itachi had his Adam's apple – another strange erogenous zone- attacked and bitten into submission.

Kisame avoided all the normal parts- nipples, neck, cock- instead he drove Itachi half-insane with want by finding other, stranger areas to pleasure. It was between his sampling of Itachi's shoulder and the crook of his elbow that the trembling Uchiha lost it.

"Kisame- for the love of God- take me already!"

Immediately, his knees were on his chest and Itachi was bidding his sanity farewell as Kisame was lapping hotly at his entrance. That wonderfully rough tongue was waging indiscriminate war against his clenching ring of muscles, and Itachi's eyes were glimpsing the inside of his skull. Kisame plundered, sinking his tongue in to hot depths over and over and over until stars of distant galaxies blinked into existence behind Itachi's eyelids.

He gasped. "Kisa- please!"

And then he was full and trembling and the muscles in his lower body began to spasm uncontrollably. The sensual massage was wreaking havoc on Kisame as Itachi saw the youth throw his head back- memory and moonlight throwing the straining tendons in his neck in sharp relief.

And then there was nothing but sensation. The touch and taste and the smell of human need. Hot thrusts drove into the very core of him and Itachi was dimly aware that his vision was blurring over with tears. His mind had lost control over his voice and he heard himself hoarsely scream for move and harder and deeper over and over and over.

Kisame felt like a burning lance inside him and a titan God above him. The sweat-slicked abs that made Itachi whimper trailed into a dark black trail that brushed against his over-sensitive balls on each thrust. His skin was being torn apart and sewn back together with threads of ecstasy and white lightning. Everything was surreal- just as he remembered it- nothing like he remembered it-


"Itachi….Baby, look at me."

Itachi forced his eyes to comply and took in the angular features, the strict jaw, the hard, full mouth…the double set of tattoos…the new piercings….this was the older Kisame.

The thrusts slowed, the sex burned hotter as the invasive breeches got deeper and deeper inside his belly. It was a deep reaming of epic proportions and Itachi felt the tears begin to brim over.

"Oh 'Tachi, I've missed you."

Hot lips claimed his own as their lower bodies joined into something primal, something cosmic and eternal. Itachi hadn't felt this- ever- and his heart broke knowing that he would never. How much of a masochist was he to allow this to continue? How could his mind torture its own body like this? He needed to wake up to stop this- to-

"Oh, baby." Kisame pulled back and leaned up to kiss a tear that had made its way from his eye just as he reached down to stroke Itachi's painfully hard member. The warm eyes, the soft tongue lapping at his face, the hand wrapped impossible tight around him, the slick thrusts that breached the cavern where he had shoved his own wants and desires- everything…it was too much…and Itachi came with a sob.

The swirling of his consciousness and the sweet fire in his spine were ebbing but Itachi still felt the hot, wet rush of his lover's release inside him.

No- it couldn't be ending- it couldn't! He needed to stay here- forever- he couldn't…but he had to- he needed to do something- he had Sasuke to think about- he had to get u- to wake up from this torture his own mind sank him into- he needed to-

"'Tachi…my 'Tachi…I missed you."

He needed to wake up! Wake up! WAKE UP!

Itachi shot up like lightning, a sense of cruel déjà vu clawing at his mind. He woke up to his small bed and his hair tangling into snarls…and tears on his face. He couldn't think- his mind was empty and too full- still and throbbing. He needed something to yank him out of the abyss he was in- he needed- he needed-

He didn't remember stumbling half naked into the pitch black room; he couldn't recall grabbing his phone. No memory told him when he had memorized the number nor when he had called it- but he couldn't bring himself to care.

He was huddled in the cold and the dark and like a lifeline thrown to a drowning man- the phone was ringing.

Shrill and high it was- but it was ringing. There was a click on the sixth ring.

"Who the fuck is this and when can I kill you for waking me up at," a shuffle, "two-fifty-five in the fucking morning."

The voice was groggy, hazed and husky with sleep and anger but it was there and Itachi felt a harsh weight release his lungs.


Itachi tried- he tried, damn it- but no matter how he opened his mouth, nothing came out.

"Hello? Who the fuck is this? I swear if this is some kind of joke I'll sue the skin off your ass -"

Itachi choked. " 'Same."

Kisame went quiet for a beat. Then-

"Itachi?" Concern and worry poured out like a torrent. "Itachi, what? What's wrong? What happened?"

Itachi swallowed. "I...'Same I can't..."

There was another soft silence and, amidst the ringing in his head he heard a soft-

"Oh, baby." The voice almost cracked, "Where. Tell me where."

From somewhere outside his mind, Itachi whispered the address and he heard the soft rustle of shifting bedclothes.

"Wait for me 'Tachi, please."

And the line went silent, but Itachi- for the life of him couldn't drop the phone. It stayed, grafted onto his hand like a lifeline.

Minutes, lifetimes, eternity seemed to pass and just as the shadows were growing again- just as the doubts were spreading again…strong arms enveloped him.

Kisame hugged the smaller form with his whole body. His arms went around the torso, his legs covered pale, slender ones and Itachi was covered from head-to-toe by six-foot-nine, warm male.

…He hadn't even heard Kisame come in…

"I forgot to lock the door," he whispered almost absently. His body was shutting down from overload.

"Thank God," Kisame whispered into his ear. "Thank God."

Itachi turned into the warm embrace and buried his face into the warm sweater-covered chest.


"He's fine. Don't worry about him. His Uzumaki will keep him safe."

Somewhere- deep in his mind- Itachi should have been surprised that Kisame had been keeping track over them. Watching, like the guardian angel his mother used to tell him about. But really- he wasn't. Kisame was Kisame. He defied everything.

"And me?" Itachi added softly just as he was about to slip unconscious. "What about me? Will you keep me safe?"

Kisame pressed the smaller man into himself, trying to merge their very beings.

"With everything I am… Always."






Do you know how overdue this fic is? It was supposed to be a joint Christmas-new years- happy birthday fic for Dani and Mako but gawd- EVERYTHING that could just managed to get in the way. DAMN YOU MURPHYS LAW. *flails*

I need to sleep. EPIC NaruSasu for Jelp (And Daydreamer79) to finish.

*keels over*


Cereal; Proud member of the Yaoi rebellion- we shall soon take over the world XD