Warnings: High school AU, obviously. Also, every character except for Shisui and Itachi (and Itachi's family) is an OC, because there are no goddamn Japanese proms WTH. Would you have wanted me to drag even more innocent characters into this farce? Didn't think so.
Okay, so this stupidity is all mine, but I'm just going to go ahead and blame coincident, who actually said, and I quote, "I just want someone to take Itachi to the prom." You just can't say things like that when I'm around.
You Shall Go To The Ball
"He's a sadist."
"Who's a sadist?"
"Coach Kowalski," Ryan snarled, shoving a sheet of paper into Shisui's face. "Look at this. This is a fucking travesty."
"What am I looking at?" Shisui asked, leaning back to avoid a mouthful of recycled pulp.
"It's the announcement for the Team Retreat, cap," someone piped up from the background. "Ry's been bitching about it all afternoon."
"Mandatory Team Retreat," Ryan hissed. "It's scheduled the same weekend as the senior prom. The asshole had to have done this on purpose."
"Huh," Shisui said, slamming his locker door shut. "Guess he's still sore at us for spray-painting the varsity bus."
"You're not even a little bit ticked off?"
"I wasn't planning on going anyway," Shisui said, pulling on his swim cap. He'd logged a solid two hours of pool time this morning, and was looking forward to a good three more. His 100's was holding strong at a record-breaking lower-30s—it was only a matter of keeping it up until nationals. That gold medal was going to look sweet on his wall next to all the others.
When he looked back up, Ryan was making a face at him. "Oh that's just not fair," he said reproachfully. "You're, like, the one guy he wouldn't kick off the team for it."
Shisui had to take a moment to bask in the glow of his own awesomeness. Then he said, "Ryan, it's the fucking prom. You know they don't hand out free cocaine at the door, right?"
Right on cue, Zai slouched up behind Ryan and slung himself over his shoulders. "Did you already buy a dress or something?" he jeered, proving without a doubt that Shisui had been a genius to handpick him for next year's captaincy. He rewarded the kid with a round of fistbumps.
Ryan regarded them with a dark look. "While you chuckleheads may be perfectly happy snorting chlorinated water all day, some of us aren't socially retarded and are kind of hoping our girlfriend of two years might give in to the magic of prom night and let them in her pants."
The locker room was filled with a long, farcical silence.
"Yeah, I'm going to be the better person here and not take the cheap shot," Shisui said generously, to a chorus of snickering. Ryan looked like he wished the floor would open up beneath his feet. "Alright, people, time to haul ass. No one is getting out of that pool today until all of you get your 100's down to under 50, got that?"
The entire team glared at him loathingly. Shisui rolled his eyes, and began snapping at them with a twisted up towel. "Let's move out, slackers," he shouted. "Those championships aren't going to win themselves."
Prom was stupid anyway, he thought later, floating on his back under the blue, shadowed ceiling, cool water rippling against his pleasantly sore muscles. What was the big deal?
But apparently, it was a big deal, because it was now twenty-four hours, one practice session, and seven periods of classes later, and Ryan was still talking about it.
"Do you have a life, Ry?" Shisui asked, pained. "Can you please get one? This is getting highly pathetic." He shoved books into his bag, and went on, "You seriously have some messed up priorities. The school board is basically paying for us to hang out in a kickass ski lodge for two days. Beer, snow-boarding, delicious mountain air—doesn't any of this sound slightly enticing?"
"My girlfriend isn't going to be there," Ryan pouted.
"So?" Shisui said. Jesus Christ, could this guy be any more whipped?
"So?" Ryan echoed, and shook his head sadly. "Wow, you are just not right. Allison broke you, man."
"Are you ever going to shut up about that?" Shisui snapped. "It's been like a year."
Ryan snorted. "She called you 'pencil dick' on the school radio, dude. People are not gonna stop talking about it any time soon. Gotta tell you, though, if some chick dumped me like that, I'd be scared off dating for life too."
"You know, Ryan," Shisui began idly, "I envision a lot of paperwork in your immediate future."
"You brought it on yourself," Ryan said with a shrug. "Why'd you skip out on her Sweet Sixteen?"
Shisui scowled. "My grandmother was in the fucking hospital is why. When your household consists of a grand total of two people, it's kind of a given that you take care of each other. It's called filial duty."
Ryan gave him a skeptical look. "Is that like a Japanese thing?"
"It's a I'm-Not-A-Heartless-Bastard thing," Shisui informed him.
"That's not what Allison would say," Ryan said, and smirked in a way that made Shisui long to break every single one of his perfect, all-American teeth. "You sure got over it quick though. I don't know what your deal with prom is, since you usually love school dances so much. That Hana girl…"
"That was Sadie Hawkins. She asked me."
"What about the one you took to Winter Formal?"
"Becky? She's my friend! She just broke up with her boyfriend, I thought it might cheer her up if we rubbed it in the asshole's face."
"The Valentine's Day Ball…"
"Trang Nguyen happens to be…"
"Alright," said Ryan, holding up a peacekeeping hand. "I get the point. You're a lady-killer. God fucking knows why. You smell like pool water 100% of the time, and your car looks like a dying animal. Sometimes I just want to hotwire the thing and take it to a carwash myself."
"Go near my car and I'll break your hand," Shisui warned. "Those streaks of mud are legacy streaks. Touch them and die."
"Psycho," Ryan muttered. "Hey, you wanna hang out later? Me and the guys are going downtown to shoot some hoops."
"No can do," Shisui said, and made for the stairs. "I got to go to work later. I'll see you tomorrow."
Ryan blinked at him in puzzlement. "What're you heading that way for? I thought you were going to work."
"There's something else I got to do first."
There were only two people in the Student Activities office when Shisui walked in, and one of them was his least favorite person in the world. Robert Chang—class salutatorian, career politician, professional asshole—jumped to his feet the moment he saw Shisui, and brayed, "I'm sorry but this room is for smart people only. No jocks allowed."
Shisui beamed at him, and swung an arm around Robert's shoulder. "Bobby, my man," he said cheerfully. "Tell me, how does it feel to lose valedictorian to a fifteen-year-old?"
Robert gave him a poisonous but utterly impotent look, and stomped out of the room.
"You probably shouldn't say stuff like that," Nevada said, frowning. "Rob'll just get pissed at you and try to take it out on Itachi later."
"Itachi can take care of himself," Shisui dismissed, canting his hip against her desk. "Where's the twerp, anyway?"
Nevada's face lit up in a heart-stopping smile. "You're here to pick him up?" she asked, suddenly saccharine-sweet. She was such a weirdo—just like everyone else on the Student Activities Committee. "He's out putting up the last of the prom posters. Mostly I think he's hiding from the guys from the Physics Club. They've been stalking the office since lunch."
"Must be hard for them, losing their superstar," Shisui sniggered, at the same time that said superstar wandered into the room with a sheaf of posters in hand.
"Hey, you," he said brightly. "Ready to go?"
"There are still some—" Itachi began, but was summarily cut off by Nevada, who leapt up from her seat and chirped, "All done! I took care of all of it! You can let Shisui take you home."
Shisui stared at her crazed expression, and edged away from the desk quietly.
"I swear, that girl needs medications," he later told Itachi as they walked out of the building together. "Maybe the stress of planning this prom thing is getting to her."
"Nevada has been working very hard," Itachi said. "All of us have been doing our best to make this event special for everyone." Shisui remembered that he had said the exact same thing when the Committee had been tasked with organizing the all-around disastrous Faculty Appreciation Day. Same inflections, even.
"Yeah, I hear it's gonna be wild," he said, suddenly spotting a possible source of hilarity. "So. Who're you taking to the prom?"
He had expected Itachi to give him one of those blank space-cadet stares of his that meant despite planning the entire thing from scratch he still had no clue what going to prom really entailed—or even better, tell Shisui that he actually had a date. If that happened to be the case, Shisui's money was on one of the sophomore girls in the Itachi Uchiha Fan Club.
Instead, what he got was an unhappy little frown, and a glaringly evasive, "You don't have practice today?"
Shisui raised his eyebrow, but decided to take it in stride. "Nope. All the practice sessions are cancelled until after the Team Retreat anyway."
"When is that?"
"So you won't be going to the prom?" Itachi asked. He made eye contact for a space of a few seconds, during which time his eyelashes did some very interesting things.
Shisui tried to make his apologetic smile as sincere as he could manage, which was hard since what he really wanted to say was, "Oh God no." He said, "Hey, I'm sure it'll be great. Sorry I won't be there to see your brainchild come to life and all that."
Itachi lifted one shoulder lightly. "Neither will I."
Okay, that definitely had a plaintive note to it. He sounded almost-maybe-sorta disappointed, Shisui realized to his abject horror, and was promptly seized by a fit of cowardice. Time for a change of topic.
"Anyway," he said rapidly. "No practice means I can drive you home for the rest of the week."
"You don't have to do that."
"I want to." That sounded… way too emphatic. He tried again, "Someone needs to save you from the evils of having to take the bus."
"I like taking the bus."
"Nobody likes taking the bus."
Shisui raised a quelling hand. "You believe in public transportation," he said preemptively. "But you know what I believe in? Sun on your face and wind in your hair."
He had to be amazed by his own spectacular timing, because right then they stepped into the parking lot and Shisui's glorious '57 Thunderbird Convertible came into view. It was jet black, a gorgeously restored beauty that Shisui had inherited from his father, kept in the exact condition it had been in when last driven. Ryan liked to make noises about the state of its relatively cleanliness, but Ryan was mostly full of lies. Personally, Shisui thought the grunginess added character, and when he reached over and took the top down, the California sunlight streamed in all golden and luxurious, glinting off the shine of the genuine leather upholstery.
Itachi was always remarkably quiet during these drives—probably because he was busy solving differential equations in that endearingly left-brained head of his. Shisui didn't mind; he liked the quiet, liked watching the way sunlight fell on the side of Itachi's face, the way his ponytail whipped like a racecar flag in the wind when he hit the gas pedal and sent them flying down the highway. He loved driving almost as much as he loved swimming, and Itachi could wax poetic about environmental friendliness all he wanted, but Shisui knew he loved it too.
He had driven Itachi almost everywhere—including one memorable trip to the emergency room that time the idiot had keeled over right in the middle of Chem lab because he had gone to school with a motherfucking 104 fever. He had also driven Itachi to all of his Science Olympiads, which was why Shisui had been the only member of their (very) extended family present to witness Itachi get dogpiled by the entire Physics team when he'd led them to the victory that had won the school some kind of big-ass telescope. He was a good friend and cousin, though, so that story never got around. Too much.
When Shisui told people he had to go to work, he usually used 'work' in a very liberal sense. His workplace was the Oceanview Children's Clinic, where he had candy-striped since freshman year, on weekends and all the days he didn't have swimming practice. There were probably burger-flippers who got paid more for less than half the hours he logged.
"Joanne's refusing to take her meds again," Angelo said by way of hello, because they didn't teach you people skills in med school, not even if you specialized in pediatrics.
"Again?" Shisui said, exasperated. "And where's our little princess?"
"Out on the tire swing, where else?"
"I'll go talk to her."
"Hold on a minute," Angelo said. "Sit down. I want to talk to you about your college plans."
Shisui frowned. "What is there to talk about?"
He was going to USC in the fall. He'd been offered an athletic scholarship, practically a free ride. There was absolutely no reason not to accept it. Not a single one.
Angelo leveled him with a look. "I got a call from your Nana. She said you got into that one school you kept blithering about—what's it called—Harvard, and now you're turning it down."
Shisui really had to try not to groan audibly. He loved Angelo like a father, but he was also of the deep, unshakeable belief that Angelo should be featured on The Real Housewives of Orange County, since he was seriously the nosiest fucking person Shisui had ever met.
"Sorry, Angelo," he said, "I must have swallowed too much pool water at practice or something, because for some reason I totally don't remember soliciting your advice."
Angelo was predictably unfazed. "If you didn't want to make it my business, you should have asked someone else to write your recommendation letters."
"You and Nana are both completely delusional," Shisui snapped. "Have you even tried to project the costs of going to college out of state, let alone across the country? Somehow I don't think my parents' dwindling life insurance policy is going to cover an Ivy League education."
There was a grave silence, in which Angelo just gave him a flat stare that Shisui painfully recognized as his You Disappoint Me Deeply, Boy look.
"I only applied as a joke," he prevaricated. "I never thought I would actually get in."
"Please," Angelo scoffed. "Act like a dumb jock all you want, I've seen your test scores."
"Do you even know anything about Harvard?" Shisui said, raising his brow in challenge. "What state is it in?"
"Connecticut," Angelo said uncertainly. Angelo grew up in San Diego, went from UCSD to Stanford Med School. He probably couldn't point Connecticut out on a map to save his life.
"Wrong," Shisui deadpanned. "It's in Massachusetts. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Now while you're writing that down, I have an appointment with a seven-year-old girl about some highly important matters."
"Suit yourself," Angelo muttered, walking back into his office. "I just thought it was stupid of you to make such a big deal out of applying to some fancy school if you never planned on going there to begin with. What the hell's even in Cambridge, anyway?"
Shisui couldn't help the scowl that slipped onto his face. "MIT," he said under his breath when Angelo was out of earshot. "MIT is what's in Cambridge."
School let out early on Friday to give the senior student body the time they needed to properly freak out about the prom that was happening in T-minus 28 hours. While everyone else was running around like a decapitated chicken trying to cobble together last minute plans for dresses and limo rentals, Shisui began pursuing an idle daydream about all the sweet jumps he was going execute with a snowboard tomorrow on some of the most badass slopes California had to offer.
That was until Brett on the team ran up to him in the hall and said, "Dude, the prom committee people are going Mortal Kombat on the quad. You gotta come see this, I think somebody is gonna get punched in the face."
By the time Shisui arrived on the scene, clutching a horrible stitch in his side, a sizeable crowd of gawkers had thronged around the presumed arena. He elbowed and shouldered his way in to find that it was indeed the members of the Student Activities Committee behind the commotion. Two of them were in fact squaring off, and one was Robert the Interminable Jackass, having evidently lost his feeble grip on whatever little higher neurological functions he'd possessed to begin with.
The other contestant in this brewing cage match was Itachi, who just looked philosophically bored. "I've already explained it to you," he said patiently. "The reason I had to cancel those arrangements you made is because not only would we have gone way over budget, but to accommodate them would mean breaking several regulation codes."
Shisui had to blink several times. Were they seriously throwing it down over budget-balancing?
"So you went behind my back?" Robert yelled, so red in the face he was starting to resemble some kind of bizarre beet. "Listen, you little shit, I don't know who you think you are but I'm sick of you always trying to take all the credit. This is my fucking my call to make."
"I didn't overrule your decision for personal reasons," Itachi said, now clearly ready to throw Robert into the nearest shark tank. "I just had no desire to allow you to defraud the school board."
At this point, Robert promptly lost his mind and got into Itachi's face, dragging him in by the collars of his shirt. "Why do you even care, freak?" he hissed. "The only way you might end up at the prom tomorrow night is if you went with your cousin."
Shisui knew he shouldn't—but he'd always hated guys who made shit personal. "His cousin is about to break your face if you don't step the fuck off, dickhead," he snarled, and stepped into the circle. Immediately, every pair of eyes zeroed in on him with drama-whoring fascination.
Robert, enough of an ass to assault classmates two years his junior but clearly not ballsy enough to take on their sports-playing relatives, tripped all over himself to get away. Shisui smirked, and slanted a sideway look at Itachi. He noted with satisfaction that his friend was already straightening his shirt, opening his mouth to say something that would undoubtedly a) make him look terrifically smart, b) make Robert look wonderfully stupid, and c) prove once again that he totally didn't need Shisui to fight his battles for him.
"I understand," Itachi said, and pressed his mouth together. "I see now that I am unfit to continue holding my position on the committee. Please consider this my resignation."
By the time Shisui managed to process what had just happened, Itachi had already spun on his heels and left, the gathered crowd parting for him like a rubbernecking Red Sea. Even Robert was looking dumbstruck. Shisui looked around in deep confusion, only to see Nevada staring at him intently, mouthing, "Go, go, go," with frenzied and increasing urgency.
He caught up with his cousin just outside the gate, and grabbed the psycho by the wrist to get his attention.
"Car," Shisui ordered. "Now."
"If you don't mind, Shisui," Itachi said, and didn't meet his eyes. "I'd rather go home by myself today."
"Let me think about that for a minute," Shisui said, tapping his chin. "Okay, done thinking, and the answer is: no. Come with me, we're going for a drive."
"I have nothing to say to you," Itachi said stubbornly.
"Fine by me," Shisui retorted, and began dragging him in the direction of the parking lot. "I didn't feel like talking anyway. Let's go to the beach."
Southern California was known for its beautiful coastlines, boasting countless resplendent, breathtaking beaches. Warm blue water, pale yellow sand, surf spots with killer breakers teenagers found themselves helplessly addicted to—the works. Shisui's favorite beach, however, was a rocky, narrow scrap of shore that wouldn't have looked out of place in some Victorian Gothic novel, desolate water under grey skies, tragic heroines pursued by dark, troubled men, that sort of things. The little crescent of dirty, tan-colored sand was practically invisible from the road, sheltered on three sides by black, craggy bluffs. Not exactly a happening hangout—but then again, that was probably why he liked it so much.
"Shisui…" Itachi began, but Shisui held up a finger to stop him.
"Hey, I thought we said no talking," he said. "There is no talking in the Secret Cove. Five minutes of silence upon entrance, that's the rule."
He settled down on the scratchy sand and propped his wrists over his splayed-out knees, looking out at the calm, whispering water, the slim edge of the horizon where the sea curled up to meet the sky. The sharp wind brushed the hair at his temples. Presently, Itachi came to sit beside him, dutifully observing the five-minute rule.
After a moment, Itachi said, "You've never told me why this place is called the Secret Cove."
"Well, obviously it's because it's got a secret."
"What's the secret?"
Shisui tipped his head back in a smile. "If you're good, I'll tell you someday."
Itachi gave him a look out of the corner of his eyes, and in the soft light of the afternoon, Shisui could see clearly all the things he'd always known but overlooked from time to time—things like how sharp Itachi's eyelashes looked against his skin, or the way his mouth thinned when he was lost in thought. He wondered if there was some sort of rule that dictated the funny way that memory worked, what you retained, what you didn't.
"Harvard," Itachi repeated. "And the relation thereof to you."
"Non sequitur much?" Shisui said, rolling his eyes. He couldn't help but feel like this was some kind of preemptive strike—they'd come out here for a whole other conversation, he wasn't emotionally prepared for this. "And how do you know about that?"
"Your grandmother told me."
"Jesus, she went to you too?" Shisui moaned, dropping his head onto his arm. "I swear, there's something clinically wrong with that woman."
"I'm not going to try to influence your decision in any way," Itachi said mildly. "I just want to hear your reason for turning it down."
Shisui looked up at that, rubbing his eyes with the heel of his hand. "I want to go somewhere close to home," he said. "Nana's still not doing that well after her bypass surgery. I need to keep an eye on her. There's all this other stuff about money and shit—but that's the main reason."
"I understand," Itachi said quietly.
Coming from anyone else, that would have sounded a world of fake, but seeing as after the accident, Itachi had been the one who had come over and made Shisui get out of bed every morning so that he wouldn't fail the eighth grade, Shisui guessed he was the only exception.
"You'll like it on the East Coast," Shisui said. He leaned back on his arms, tilted his face to the dulling sky. "It'll suit you better. I know you've always hated California."
"I don't hate California."
Shisui laughed. "Yeah, you do—and I can see why. It's too sunny, people are too happy. You don't even like wearing flip-flops."
This summer was going to be so different. For the last four years, Shisui's summer routines had consisted of lifeguarding at the Y, hanging out with the guys on the team, annoying the shit out of Angelo at the clinic—and getting up at 6 am everyday to drive Itachi to whatever lucky-ass research lab had hired him as student assistant for the summer. All of a sudden, it occurred to him that he wasn't going to have that anymore, and that was probably what propelled him to say:
"I'll miss you."
And maybe—maybe that was what this whole thing was really about. He had never not have that, not since he'd pushed Itachi into the paddling pool at his sixth birthday party. Every subsequent birthday, every first day of school, every milestone reached had only served to remind Shisui that it couldn't last. College was only the beginning. In a couple of years the US Department of Defense or fucking NASA was going to snatch Itachi up, and he'd be out of Shisui's orbit forever, so he figured he might as well start missing Itachi now and get it out of his system.
He'd always known that he'd have to let go eventually. It was just that, frankly, he sucked at it.
But then again Shisui wasn't the sixteen-year-old going to college 3000 miles away from home, which was probably going to blow even worse than being a twelve-year-old going to high school, so he figured he should just suck it up and deal.
So he said, "Not to sound all Hallmark special or anything," and edged in closer to Itachi, so that their shoulders bumped lightly. "But yeah. I'll miss you. Are you going to miss me?"
"I need to be getting back," Itachi announced, and slid to his feet. When Shisui blinked up at him in disbelief—they were having a moment here!—he looked away quickly and said, "I promised Sasuke I'd help him with his science fair project."
The journey back was just as uncomfortably silent. It was getting dark, the silvery air slightly chilly, so Shisui put the hood back up, fiddled with the radio until he found a decent classic rock station. However, he soon discovered that not even the godlike riffs of Jimi Hendrix could dispel the thick tension that had fallen in the car, at which point he just felt incredibly doomed.
As they pulled up in front of Itachi's house, Shisui decided that he had to at least make one last-ditch effort. "So listen," he began, "now that you've had time to get your head screwed back on, why don't you call Nevada and take back your resignation? Otherwise Robert is going to gloat like he's some kind of winner from now till graduation, and that's really more than I can stand."
"Yes," Itachi said sedately. "You're right."
Okay, this was way more serious than he'd thought.
"Alright, what the hell is up?" Shisui asked. "I've been trying really hard not to freak out here, but you're not making it easy. I mean, I know you can't possibly be upset about what Robert said, because it's not like you wanted to go to the prom anyway, right?"
Instead of saying, "Of course not," or glaring at Shisui or something characteristic like that, Itachi just tucked in his chin and shifted in his seat, the set of his shoulders going completely rigid. Shisui knew that the world was ten kinds of weird whenever Itachi was involved, but seriously, this was too much.
"Wait a sec," he muttered, eyes widening. "You—you actually want to. That's why you've been acting so weird. You actually want to go to the prom, don't you?"
"And is there something wrong with that?" Itachi asked, almost snippily. "As I recall, I'm a member of the senior class too."
Shisui almost said, "If by 'senior' you mean 'jailbait'," but didn't, because—yeah okay, twelve-year-old in high school, he got that. "It's just a dance," he said instead, trying for soothing and supportive. "It's just a souped-up version of any other stupid school dance. Balloons, sequins, gross drinks, shitty cover bands playing shittier music—you'd probably hate it."
"That's my 'brainchild' you're insulting," Itachi said, and turned to face the window.
"Sorry," Shisui mumbled, contrite. "I'm just saying."
It figured. He'd had no idea he was so appallingly crap at this Wise Older Brother stuff until something like this came out of nowhere and hit him in the face like a speeding semi. Pull it together, idiot, Shisui told himself, and said, "Look, if you really want to go… it's late, but you can probably still ask someone. One of the underclassmen, maybe? The sophomore girls have a whole fan club for you—and hey, they're actually your age."
Itachi did not turn around, but appeared to be glaring at Shisui with his entire body.
"Unless," Shisui ventured, "you already have someone else in mind."
"I'm going to be late for dinner," Itachi said abruptly. He tried to reach for the door handle, but Shisui employed his athlete reflex and caught his hand before it managed to get there.
"Who is it?" he pressed, taking advantage of the fact that he was practically leaning over Itachi to lock their gaze. "Do I know her? Or… him. Are they taken or something? Do I know them?"
For a moment, Itachi just stared straight ahead, like he'd found something engrossing somewhere to the left of Shisui's ear. Then his eyes shifted, a dark resolve settling into their depths, and he swiftly reached behind Shisui's neck and tugged him in.
Shisui's mind went completely blank because a) his cousin was kissing him, b) Shisui apparently needed to get some lip balm, because his lips were chapped as all hell, and c) his cousin was kissing him. His mouth was still slack with shock when Itachi broke away, and in the dusky light, Shisui could see that he was smiling—somewhat sadly, like a goodbye kind of smile. Almost effortlessly, Itachi pushed Shisui away from him, easing him back down into his seat.
"Now you know," he said quietly, and stepped out of the car, giving Shisui the privacy to hyperventilate to his failing heart's content.
Saturday morning saw Shisui getting up early after a night of almost zero sleep. He arrived at school just in time to almost miss the shuttle to the airport, and be on the receiving end of Coach Kowalski's most flaying glare ever. Silently, he went to the back of the bus, dropped his duffel bag to the floor, and took a seat, eyes trained to the ground between his feet.
Exactly one minute later, he bolted out of said seat and dramatically threw himself from the bus.
"Uchiha, where the hell do you think you're going?"
"Sorry, Coach," Shisui yelled breathlessly over his shoulder. "It's a family emergency! I'll make up for this, I swear—I'll do the team's budgets for a month!"
Shisui studied his reflection in the rearview mirror morosely. It turned out that just because he'd gotten his head out of his ass didn't mean that things would magically get any easier. Case in point: he'd very nearly made it to the car unscathed, only to have his seventy-two-year-old grandmother tackle him at the door with a comb and a jar of sculpting wax, muttering deranged things about 'texture' and 'hold'. In the aftermath, his hair looked tamed but violated, and on top of chlorinated water now also smelled strongly of TIGI Bed Head. He ran his hand through it in resignation, adjusted the bow tie (which looked stupid) and the lapel of his tuxedo (which looked more stupid), and then flicked out his phone and hit speed dial two.
On the third ring, Itachi picked up. "Hello?"
"Hey," Shisui said into the phone, rounding a sharp corner on a mostly deserted street. "So I'm on my way over."
"Shouldn't you be at your Team Retreat?" Itachi asked cautiously. His voice was not noticeably tense, but Shisui could tell that he was agitated. "Is something wrong?"
"No, I'll explain in a little bit. Meet me outside in five?"
Shisui had always believed in the merits of a grand entrance, so even though he was so nervous his heart wanted to migrate into his esophagus, he couldn't help but feel a little triumphant that when he rolled up in his gleaming Thunderbird with the top down, Led Zeppelin beating out something righteous from the car radio, all Itachi could do was stare and stare and stare.
"Your fairy godmother came through," Shisui said, hopping out of the car and opening his arms expansively. "Sorry I couldn't rent a limo on such short notice. I did wash my car, though."
Itachi looked frozen for a moment. Then his upper lip stiffened, and he said, "You have a very poor sense of humor," before turning and starting back up the driveway. Shisui had already anticipated this skepticism—paranoid freakass—and immediately ran ahead of him, stalling Itachi in his track. He might as well have brought a boombox to hold over his head, because goddamn if he couldn't almost hear Peter Gabriel singing "In Your Eyes".
"Itachi," Shisui began, in the most patient voice in his repertoire. "I'm wearing a tux. I bought you a corsage. I let Nana do my hair." He indicated the catastrophe currently colonizing his head. "The way I see it, you can either get dolled up and go to the prom with me. Or,"—he paused, and biting his lip, reached forward to take one of Itachi's hands—"we can spend ten minutes arguing about it, and then you can get dolled up and go to the prom with me."
For a long time, Itachi just stared at him in silence, his mouth slightly parted. Shisui was beginning to worry that he had accidentally destroyed one of the most brilliant minds in the country, when Itachi swallowed audibly and said, "Okay."
"Okay?" Shisui echoed, almost confused.
"Okay," Itachi said again. He pulled his hand slowly out of Shisui's grip, and without breaking eye contact, said, "Wait here."
He walked briskly up the driveway, opened the front door, and went inside. Momentarily, his entire house erupted into a storm of rapid-fire Japanese, confused voices saying things like, "The prom? What do you mean the prom?" and, "Itachi-kun, who is that outside?" and, "Nii-san, you're putting that shirt on backward!" Then everything went abruptly silent, as Itachi's father, mother, and little brother all piled themselves into the doorway to gawk at Shisui.
Shisui gave them a lame wave. "Hi, Uncle Fugaku. Aunt Mikoto. Sasuke."
They stared back at him dumbly, and Shisui had the sudden sinking feeling that the next family reunion was going to go down a lot like a Salem witch trial. He had no time to worry about that, however, because right then Itachi eased back out from between his parents—trust him to have a tuxedo just lying around all pressed and ready to go. Even his shoes looked like they had been shined in recent memory. There were no winding stairs or handheld cameras or giant poofy dresses, nothing like that, but Shisui's throat still went really, really dry.
Talk about getting dolled up, geez.
"You're ready?" he squeaked. One of these days, he was going to drive himself off a cliff. "Do you… want me to pin the corsage on for you?"
Itachi gave him a flatly amused look. "I'm not putting that on," he said.
"Right," Shisui said, and tossed the offending item vaguely over his shoulder. "Okay, well, let's go then." He held open the door for Itachi, before chancing a look at his still-verklempt family.
"I'll have him back by eleven?" Shisui tried feebly, and then ducked into his car and threw it into reverse posthaste.
"So you know what I heard?" Shisui said when they were walking into the hotel lobby. "I heard that the rest of the Student Activities Committee took a vote this morning, and booted out a certain class salutatorian we know and love."
"Did you?" Itachi asked, raising an eyebrow.
Shisui nodded. "I also heard that when the school board got wind of his attempted fraud, they suspended his ass and barred him from attending prom." He smirked, and leaned in, conspiratorial, to say, "Apparently, somebody sent the board an anonymous tip."
He pulled back, still smiling, and went on, "See? Going to prom with your cousin isn't the worst thing in the world, is it?"
Itachi just shook his head, and didn't say anything when Shisui slid one hand up his back to usher him through the crowded lobby, palming the line of his spine through the dark cloth of the jacket he was wearing. A couple of people by the door turned to look at them as they came through, but soon lost interest, since this was SoCal and this kind of thing wasn't even juicy enough for daytime television anymore. Several of Shisui's friends gave him questioning looks, to which he responded with a casual shrug. He even saw his Valentine's Day date Trang Nguyen giving him a quick thumbs-up before being dragged into a kiss by her new girlfriend.
Nevada, manning the photo station, burst into loud tears when they passed her on their way to the ballroom, and gave Itachi a scandalizing hug. Sometimes, Shisui wondered about that girl.
Once inside, he gave Itachi a moment to soak in the surrounding and maybe get off on the fruit of his labor a bit, while Shisui wandered off in search of beverages. He returned with a punch for himself, and a spiked one for Itachi—mostly because he found the combination of cherry Kool Aid and Ketel One vodka fucking hilarious.
"I don't drink," Itachi said.
"Just take a sip," Shisui said, pressing the glass into his hand. "Consider it a victory drink. This place looks fucking awesome, and it's all your hard work that made it happen. You should be proud."
"I'm not the only member of the planning committee."
"Can you just shut up and take a compliment for once?"
He wasn't even skimping on his praise. The hotel ballroom looked like something straight out of a high-budget teen movie depicting what Hollywood producers believed to be a typical high school prom, all tricked out in ice-blue neon light panels and elaborate floral arrangements. Shisui could swear he saw several large ice sculptures dying a slow death by the walls, but the seizure-inducing flashes from the laser light show made it difficult to tell for sure. It was admittedly impressive: some mad budget juggling must have been engineered, because in addition to a jumbo plasma screen, the committee had managed to procure both a DJ and a shitty cover band, who were currently on stage belting out some saccharine late-90s number that Shisui mercifully did not recognize.
It was only a matter of time before they busted out Savage Garden's "Truly Madly Deeply," which had played at every single fucking dance he had attended since middle school. "Truly Madly Deeply" made Shisui think of karaoke bars and middle-aged people balling their fists in front of their faces while singing along with their eyes closed really, really tight. His family had no history of mental illnesses, but that was no guarantee he wouldn't suffer some kind of psychotic fit and murder everyone in the room if that song were to come on right now.
But then he looked over, and saw that Itachi was staring silently at all the people swaying out on the dance floor, gripping his drink with an intensity that suggested holding it was the only thing keeping him from doing something like move along to the music. A helpless flutter started up under Shisui's breastbone, and now the band was starting a new, sort of bluesy song—no B.B. King, but at least it wasn't the Jonas Brothers or, God forbid, "Truly Madly Deeply", so why not?
He swallowed, once, and said, "Want to dance?"
Itachi jerked his head around to look at him. He blinked, and said, "Are you sure?"
Shisui shrugged. "I have to warn you, though," he said, "I have two left feet. You can ask Hana Inuzuka about how I almost broke her toes at Sadie Hawkins."
Itachi arched a thin eyebrow skeptically. "You're an athlete."
"Why do you think I swim?"
"It's a slow song," Itachi said. "I think we'll be alright."
It was amazing how his entire body seemed to change when he smiled. The kind of amazing that made Shisui temporarily forget his place in the universe, until he found himself face to face with Itachi under the flood of blue strobe lights gliding over the dance floor. His heart made a fair effort to abandon ship. Was he supposed to lead? Would Itachi get offended if he did, and if that happened how was Shisui going to stop himself from making a comment like, "I paid for the tickets, I get to be the guy," which would probably send him to the ER with a head wound?
But when the singer crooned the first verse of the song—If loving you is wrong, I don't want to be right—Itachi just leaned in and hooked his arms around Shisui's neck. For someone who had been so skeptical at first, he sure had this whole prom thing figured out. Like hell Shisui was going to come out looking like the naïve schoolgirl in this scenario, and so he wrapped his arms around Itachi's waist to pull him close, and there. They were dancing. Easy as easy.
Your mama and daddy say it's a shame… It's a downright disgrace…
"Geez," Shisui muttered into Itachi's ear. "You think this could be our song?"
Your friends tell you there's no future in loving a married man…
"…okay, maybe not."
Itachi just laughed softly into Shisui's shoulder, stroking his thumb in small circles along the skin of his neck, and suddenly the next easiest-slash-best thing in the world was to nudge Itachi's face up and press a kiss to the downward slant of his mouth, the damp bow of his upper lip, sweet and slow. When Itachi kissed him back, slender fingers pressing hungrily into Shisui's back, his mouth tasted like—Shisui almost choked out a laugh—cherry Kool Aid and Ketel One vodka, which upon second consideration seemed like a genius combo, so kudos to whoever had spiked the punch. Kudos, kudos, kudos.
Am I wrong for trying to hold on to the best thing I ever had?
The band continued to play two more slow-dance songs—none of which thankfully was "Truly Madly Deeply"—and then turned it over to the DJ, who began thumping out a fierce hip-hop mix that immediately sent everybody on the dance floor into a grinding, gyrating frenzy. Shisui didn't actually hate the song, but he was too busy trying to stifle his laughter at the way Itachi had basically frozen to his chest while still trying to act like he wasn't totally out of his element.
"Had enough?" he whispered, and leaned in close to Itachi's ear. "Wanna get out of here?"
And that was how they were once again out in the open night air. The town was lit up like a gem, like Vegas on fight night, the streets filled with beautiful people, ridiculously teased hair and the best evening wear Rent-A-Tux had to offer. As they walked around the block to get Shisui's car, Itachi cleared his throat and said, "Well, I'd like to thank you for the lovely eveni—"
"What are you talking about?" Shisui cut him off. "The night's not over yet."
Itachi gave him a questioning look. "What else do you have planned?"
"It's a surprise," Shisui said, grinning wryly. "Come on, get in the car."
"Are you sure we're allowed to make a bonfire here?" Itachi asked.
Shisui rolled his eyes, and threw another log onto the flame. "It's the Secret Cove, who's going to know?" He kicked off his shoes, and ditched his jacket and bow tie, which were starting to suffocate him in the sultry air of late April. The sand beneath his toes was rough with little pebbles, which was why he had chosen the thickest blanket in the house to bring along. Itachi had lost no time in curling up in one of the corners, leaving plenty of space for Shisui to flop down next to him, stretching out flat on his back with his arms pillowed under his head.
"You didn't go to your Team Retreat," Itachi said. "Aren't you going to get into trouble for that?"
"Kowalski's probably going to rake me through the coals a bit, yeah," Shisui answered resignedly. "He won't do any permanent damage though, 'cause we're going to nationals next month." He prodded Itachi in the arm. "You'd better come and watch."
The balmy wind cooled all of a sudden, slick and sweet like a film of water over the skin. It fluttered Itachi's long bangs, spread them out in a wavy pattern when he looked down at Shisui and said, "Won't the ESPN cameras provide you enough attention?"
"I'm dead serious," Shisui said. "I went to your Science Olympiads, didn't I? I'm going to get you a varsity jacket, and you're going to sit in the stands and cheer for me like a good—" Oh God, he couldn't say 'boyfriend', could he? "—cousin." Somehow, that sounded even worse.
But frankly speaking, Shisui couldn't bring himself to care, because he felt that they deserved it, that last hurrah. This night, too, was part of it, and after that would come graduation, and then summer, when nothing would be the same again. A new chapter of their lives would begin, and this whole crazy beautiful thing, whatever the hell it was, would be ending. The very thought of it stung like a chemical burn under his skin, the slow ache of desperation.
"Shit," he muttered. "I forgot to turn in my housing form. That means I'll have to look for some place off campus. Can't be anywhere near USC, though, that neighborhood is ass."
"I hear Pasadena's nice," Itachi said.
"Yeah, that's not bad," Shisui said. "Not too expensive, okay commute if I don't have any eight AMs. Plus it's close to home, so I could drop in to check on Nana on the weekends. I should start looking up roommates."
"If you need a place," Itachi said, voice soft over the low susurrus of the sea, "I know someone who will also be moving to Pasadena in the fall."
"Oh yeah? Who?"
Shisui nearly snapped his spine in half jerking his body into an upright position. "What the hell are you going to be doing in Pasadena?" he squawked, totally undignified.
"Going to school," Itachi replied. He was even grinning a little. "At the California Institute of Technology."
"Caltech?" Shisui sputtered. "You're… you're going to Caltech?"
He ran a hand over his face to smooth away the gobsmacked expression, and said accusingly, "You never told me that you applied to Caltech."
"You never told me about Harvard," Itachi countered.
"You're going to Caltech." It was stupid but he couldn't seem to stop saying those words. He wanted to laugh, dazedly, helplessly, because this was huge, life-altering, too big in scope to wrap his mind around—not because it was difficult, but because it was so easy, just a lease and an U-Haul truck where he'd anticipated plane tickets, longing and unbearable distances.
"Shit. You're going to Caltech… and you want me to live with you."
"Only if you want to."
At this point, it became imperative that he grabbed Itachi's face and pulled him into a kiss—their third, and counting. It was markedly different from the other two, hotter, messier, every brush of tongue and every gasp of breath, teeth clicking and snapping. They broke apart for oxygen, and slid together again, desperate and hissing with need. While Itachi's fingers slipped under his waistband and dug bruises into Shisui's hips, he busied himself with divesting Itachi of his jacket, which had previously felt nice and expensive under the pads of Shisui's fingers but now was just getting in the way.
That done, he smoothed his hands down Itachi's sides, up the front of his shirt, tilted forward to press him back down onto the blanket, and put himself to task tearing apart Itachi's perfectly ironed collar in search of skin. By the time Shisui was sucking open-mouthed kisses along the curve of Itachi's neck, he could feel Itachi's fingers knotted indulgently in his curls, and knew that, despite his grandmother's best effort, his hair was back in its usual terrifying state, and God, if he didn't stop thinking about Nana right now, he was seriously going to herniate something.
He was suddenly very aware also of the fact that he was rapidly losing his shirt, and quite, quite literally hot. He'd been rock hard since they'd hit the blanket, and—if he wasn't mistaken—he wasn't alone on that count, so if he didn't at least try to think through this hormonal haze, this whole thing was going to get very out of hand very, very fast.
"Um, we should probably… stop because I… uh."
He so wasn't prepared for that.
Shisui had slept with exactly one guy in his life, and that had been the captain of an opposing team at his last swim meet, so everything about that particular fuck just made him feel kind of disgusted with himself. Even if he had spent an eternity envisioning how things might go (and he hadn't!), he still wouldn't have been able to picture this, the sight of Itachi's face, flushed and kiss-bruised, patterned with the flickering shadow of the fire, or the dark, whispering noises that he made when Shisui bit down on his shoulder and carefully kneaded the corded muscle with his teeth. Itachi's chin tilted back, exposing the long pale neck where Shisui's mouth had just been moments ago, his body arching up against Shisui insistently, chest to chest, even as he snaked one slender hand down between them to undo Shisui's pants—and fuck, this was it, this was it.
Itachi smelled like notebook paper and some weirdly flowery shampoo that his mom had probably bought, but by the end of this night he was going to go home smelling like pool water and TIGI Bed Head—which his father would likely interpret as justifiable grounds for manslaughter, but oh well. Distantly, Shisui was aware that they were about to hit a homerun on a public beach, which was fine because a) it was hilarious, b) the risk of discovery was kind of a turn-on, and c) catching horny teenagers hooking up on the beach on prom night was practically a national pastime, so it wasn't like anyone would care.
Much later, after Itachi had let Shisui put his pants back on—but not his shirt—and they were all curled up against each other on the dry side of the blanket, Shisui found himself thinking that this whole sluttish thing with the beach and the open air and the boldness of living and careless courage of youth or whatever was so fucking exquisite that he might be in love. He lay on his belly and pressed his chin into his folded arms, drowsing away to the touch of Itachi's long fingers, drawing strange schematics on his back.
"Found something you like?" he asked, cocking one eyebrow.
The fingers on his skin didn't stop moving; some kind of elaborate mathematical function was taking shape between his shoulder blades, something beautiful and perfect just like how this damn night was beautiful and perfect. He heard Itachi's voice say archly, "Believe it or not, my attraction to you isn't rooted in the physical aspect of things."
Shisui snorted. "Yeah, I totally believe you were really conducting facility inspection all those times you came down to see me practice." He heaved over onto his back with a grin. "These shoulders are the only reason nobody tried to shove you into a locker the first week of school. Better start being nice to them."
"I apologize," Itachi said, and leaned over to kiss Shisui, close-mouthed, long hair cascading around their faces like a black curtain. It would be so easy to drift into sleep like this, tip into dreams with fingers twined, skin pressed to warm, lush skin. But because this was, like, their first time and all, he wanted to make it, you know, super extra special.
"Let me up," Shisui murmured against Itachi's lips. "I want to show you something."
He pushed himself lazily to a sitting position, and rolled his pant legs up to his knees, making his way across the sand and into the tide to feel the water cool against his ankles, kissing the alert slant of the bones.
"So you want to hear the secret?"
"The secret of the Cove?"
"Yeah. Come over here."
There was no moon out tonight, and the sea lay quiet in the dark, a docile animal. The breeze snapped at his hair. Nothing between him and whatever distant land lay on the other side but that clear expanse of water, wider than a continent. When Itachi waded into the shallows beside him, Shisui reached over and reeled him in with one arm, dipped his head to whisper into his ear.
"This," he said, "is where my dad proposed to my mom," and taking advantage of Itachi's flutter of surprise, tackled him into the water.
Just for the record, I love Truly Madly Deeply.
If you liked this fic - and are a fan of Ita/Shi - you might be interested in joining the new livejournal community bitter_nakano, where fans of this pairing gather to engage in flailing, squeeing, and other such intellectual activities. Post your fanworks! We have to build this fandom up from the ground, y'all.