A/N: I am so, so sorry. Also, please be aware that my knowledge of space travel comes almost solely from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress :(
Disclaimer: I do not own space opera cliches, Star Trek, or even Shisui's narrative voice, which I have mostly ganked from Quillslinger.
...It had to happen sometime, guys. Ita/Shi...IN SPACE!
Bridge Commander Uchiha Shisui was either dead, starsick, or some combination of the above which implied that he had behaved much, much worse in his twenty-three years than he had previously thought possible. He wondered what had tipped the karmic balance against him in the end—probably that week with those twin humanoid girls in the Wind system, but how was he supposed to know their polygamous genetically-engineered husbands would come after him with a fleet of destroyers? How was he even supposed to know they had polygamous genetically-engineered husbands? The database never mentioned these important facts about planets, just useless things about atmospheric methane content and available water supply.
"I'm dead," he moaned. "I've died and gone to hell!"
"We are actually in the Fire system, appoaching Konoha and its moon," said a sepulchral voice from beyond the grave. "Almost home, in fact. There is no need to be melodramatic."
Shisui allowed himself a moment of despair that this particular voice appeared to have followed him past the bounds of his mortal coil to give him grief, before being abruptly assailed by another bout of starsickness. He ducked his head between his knees and groaned.
"Itachi," he whimpered, "don't you care about your poor dead friend?"
"Certainly," Itachi lied calmly to his face, "That is why I have told you to take your visor off when we make jumps. It is not my fault you are incapable of even basic faculties of obedience."
"I outrank you, you stupid—"
"It does not matter. The Sharingan models are not meant to be worn during hyperspace travel. Continue to do so, and you will lose your eyesight before your twenty-fourth birthday."
"I need my visor," Shisui tried to explain—fruitlessly, because Itachi was pacing back and forth in the neurotic way that signaled he had gone into full-on nagging mode. Shisui considered flipping the artificial gravity off just so his friend would be forced to strap himself in and stop making his life—or afterlife, or whatever it was—so utterly miserable, but this action would probably cause his insides to go nova in the most dramatic way possible.
Itachi gave him a searching look. "It is very possible that you have developed an insecure dependence on the Sharingan visor due to your inability to assert your masculinity in other regards," he commented offhandedly before striding off the bridge, high ponytail snapping back and forth in the downdraft from the cooling vent.
Shisui was eight and a half seconds into his next round of throwing up when he realized his friend had possibly just taken a crack at his manhood.
The Mangekyou wasn't a bad ship, as far as ships went. In fact, she was actually rather gorgeous, with curves tight enough to induce inappropriate fantasies in some of the more pinheaded members of the crew—and okay, Shisui too, but he was actually capable of fulfilling his urges with organic matter, so he didn't think it counted. No one could look away when it came to the Mangekyou. Her three pinwheeling arms that flicked through the air in a hypnotizing movement—which Itachi assured him was designed to lure in enemy ships and wreck them on the blade-sharp edges—her lush interior decoration, her seventy-two hour entertainment programming: she was undoubtedly the best ship Shisui had ever commanded.
The only minor problem was that she wasn't actually his ship—the battered and beloved Mirage was still docked back on Konoha—she was Itachi's, although Shisui counted a significant share in her ownership thanks to the fact that Itachi had apparently wrangled the ship from the government only under condition that he bring his best friend to serve as commander. This had shaved several years off the time of life that Shisui had christened his "intergalactic bachelorhood of undiluted awesome."
"You're cutting in on my intergalactic bachelorhood of undiluted awesome," he'd whined at Itachi when he'd brought the news. "Seriously, why don't you just shove me in the Nakano and be done with it?"
"Both ANBU and my supervisor have been very impressed with your accomplishments," said Itachi, ignoring his morbid tendencies. "I was offered the ship if I would bring Shisui of the Mirage on board."
"Aerospace Navigation Bureau of the Union. It is a clandestine division. Most of our work is classified. You will see why when you command this ship."
"Command? They don't even want me to captain?"
"My supervisor will be serving as captain remotely," said Itachi. "You should consider it, Shisui."
He had done no such thing until he'd actually seen the ship, and then he was a dead man. His breath had caught in his throat and shaken him bodily until he was fairly sure he was having a religious experience, because there couldn't have been anything in the galaxy as beautiful as that silver windmill of a ship. Itachi, standing in front of it in his black-and-white government uniform, had smiled very slightly. In his deluded state, Shisui had actually caught himself entertaining the thought that this just contributed to the generally enticing quality of the package—the mere fact of Itachi, observing him with a near-robotic expression of calm on his face. He was whip-slim and petite enough to disguise the fact that he was probably the most intimidating hand with an electric baton this side of Sector Seven. Shisui had snickered at this. They'd had some good times, and the look of surprise on some extraterrestrial terrorist's face as pretty, diminutive Itachi applied five thousand volts to his skull really never got old.
"Okay," Shisui had said. He was, after all, completely helpless in the face of attractive machines of all kinds. "I'll do it."
Thankfully, Shisui's hyperspace sickness was eased in picoseconds by Haruno Sakura, one of the ankle-biting medical interns on the Mangekyou. He was so grateful he didn't even subject her to the requisite interrogation on where she had been when her commander had first started choking up his own spleen, although he could approximate a decent guess. Haruno Sakura's break time coincided with Uchiha Sasuke's allotted time for personal grooming, and Shisui had pretty much gotten the lay of the land after finding a pilfered Byakugan-model visor in her medical satchel. He had been slightly affronted. There was no reason to spy on Sasuke when there were finer specimens aboard, such as Sakura's very willing commander, and, although he would have thrown himself out of the airlock before admitting it, Sasuke's older brother.
The problem with Itachi, Shisui reflected as he absentmindedly spun around in his swivel chair, was that he had inexplicably become something closely approximating dead sexy sometime between their sixth and seventh years of Academy training. One month Shisui's ship had wrecked on Ame, one of the most wretched planets in the known galaxy, and when Itachi had finally appeared to rescue him from his waterlogged misery, Shisui had taken one look at his drenched friend, uttered a bewildered, "Fuck, you're kind of hot," and fallen head over heels into a rain trench.
It hadn't been his fault. Seriously. Itachi should have been wearing his pressure suit, not clingy fiber-mesh that showed off his pectorals to deliberately disorient people. The whole "But Ame has a stable atmosphere!" thing was clearly a ruse. Shisui had chewed on his own intestines for the entire trip back to Konoha. It wasn't as if he'd never engaged in anything questionable with members of the same sex—he was cool with most things, as long as tentacles weren't involved—but Itachi wasn't supposed to be hot. He was supposed to have slightly droopy cheeks and glare at you if you pinched them. This was practically a law of the universe, and had been since when Shisui was five years old and caught his first glimpse of the little boy in the next edu-cubicle.
As if on cue, Itachi appeared in the midst of this musing, looking perturbed. "Captain Madara wishes to speak to you, before we dock," he reported.
Shisui rolled his eyes and slapped his hand irritatedly on the communicator. "Bring him up."
The Mangekyou was the first ship Shisui had ever commanded on which the captain actually communicated by holographic link rather than flying in person. He had seen this happen in bad science fiction vidreels. It was usually a sign that the captain was either not real, controlled by Sith-like forces, or mastermind of some ridiculously grandiose plot to take over the universe.
Shisui had bet several illegal types of interplanetary currency that Madara's case was the last, but Itachi didn't need to know about that.
"Commander Uchiha," said the hologram of the man, flickering vaguely into life. "And—Itachi? I can barely see you—"
"That's why most captains actually fly with their ships, Captain," said Shisui snidely, before whacking the communicator again. "What's wrong with this thing, anyway? This is a first-class ship, why doesn't the communicator link ever work properly?"
"The telecommunications engineer assigned to the Mangekyou is Nara Shikamaru," said Itachi, by way of explanation. Shisui stifled a curse. It was no wonder the damn comm-links never worked. Not that he particularly cared, since it meant Madara's reception was probably poor enough that he couldn't notice Shisui gratituously flipping him the finger at random intervals. Unfortunately, it also meant that Shisui himself had never actually seen Madara's face. All he could make out through the shoddy holographic glimmer were flyaway bits of long black hair. Not unlike Itachi's own, except that Itachi's own didn't look as if he'd had a bad run-in with a lightning rod.
Shisui smirked and drummed his fingers loudly on his dashboard, knowing it would create an almost unbearable volume of static on the other end. Sure enough, Madara's form winced.
"Ah—if you could desist, Commander Uchiha—"
"Sorry? Can't hear you," said Shisui, banging on the dash with a deranged enjoyment. Itachi flicked his ponytail in a disapproving manner. Not many people could manage this feat, especially when their hairstyle made them look something like the space cadets in the black-market vidreels Shisui had encountered at flight school, but Itachi was a man of many talents. Suddenly, he reached over and set his hand quite firmly over Shisui's own, stopping his movements.
"Much better," said Madara, but Shisui was so busy gawking at Itachi that he barely noticed what the captain was saying. He made a failed attempt to dislodge his hand. Itachi himself gave no indication that he was in any way cognizant of what he was doing except to tighten his fingers slightly, a movement which made the palm of Shisui's hand so sweaty he thought he must be getting starsick again. Maybe Itachi would let go if he threw up on him. Shisui doubted it.
On the holographic platform, Madara was ranting about something.
"—lunar chakra fields, and Suna has been complaining about your…misconduct…during your last visit, but it can't afford an economic sanction against Konoha. We've been supplying that miserable sandbox of a planet with clean chakra for years—"
Shisui was still staring at Itachi, who was looking at the hologram with an expression of such complete interest that he must have been faking it. He moved his hand slightly. All of a sudden, Itachi laced his fingers with his, without so much as looking at him.
Shisui actually screamed.
Madara stopped. "…Commander Uchiha."
"He started it!" gibbered Shisui. "I mean—guh—"
"My apologies," said Itachi, removing his hand and straightening to his full height, which was not considerable, but made up what it lacked in inches with pure intimidation. "Shisui must be tense because he has never docked this ship. I will prepare the crew and contact the ground team."
This was the most insulting lie Shisui had ever heard, and he had just opened his mouth to say something to this effect when Madara said, "I would like to speak with you in private, if that's all right, Commander."
"Well, this should be good enough," said Shisui, gesturing around at the bridge. "Unless you want me to get us a hotel room? I'm not really interested, but thanks…"
"The bridge is hardly private," said Madara pointedly. As if to corroborrate this, Ino and Hinata scuttled past, fidgeting with the hems of their intern uniforms. Shisui had forced all the interns to wear the reflective silver uniforms when Rock Lee had accidentally blown up part of the bridge through a misapplication of the antigravity function. Shisui's view was that if the interns looked conspicuous enough, people would notice that they weren't actually supposed to be there and throw them out of important areas instead of letting them damage Itachi's ship. It didn't hurt that there had only been enough material to make the girls miniskirts. Coincidentally. It was tradition, after all; all of the great starships used the same sorts of uniforms for female officers, even if it wasn't exactly convenient or even sensible—
"Okay, okay," said Shisui. "Hey, Ino, Hinata! I'm taking the comm-link to my cabin, okay? Itachi's in charge for the landing. Artificial gravity will disengage at T-2, so make sure you're strapped down. And keep the electromagnet running manually for the escape pods! We don't want one getting loose like last time…"
"Oh god, Commander, I'm so sorry," gushed Ino. "But I told Sakura to tell Neji to—"
"It's fine, just don't do it this time. Just make sure someone's on the generator, because we're going to shut off the external chakra supply. I'll be back soon."
Shisui picked up the holographic platform and retreated to his cabin, where he flipped his wall table open and suckered the comm-link to the underside of the flat surface.
"Okay," he said. "Let's get this little sleepover over with, Captain. I've got a ship to dock."
"I'm sure your second can handle it," said Madara, still looking crackly with poor reception. "Itachi would have made a superb commander."
"Then you should've asked him to take the responsibility in the first place," said Shisui. He was used to this sort of thing, given that Itachi had been first in line for commander's decorations as soon as they had graduated from the Academy, but his friend had turned the badge down to work for the government. It figured that Itachi would be the sole cadet in their class who actually meant something when he talked about world peace. He could have done anything. His flight log had been near-perfect. He was innovative and scientifically gifted; the chakra-cell necklace he wore was his own design, three links that leeched human energy from his skin and converted it into small amounts of chakra power.
For years Shisui had seen him only in the parenthetical weeks between landings and flights. There were days when the feel of terra firma made him physically ill, but he stayed anyway. Ground under his feet meant Itachi in the doorway, metallic sunlight from Konoha's highrises filtering halo-like around his hair. Ground under his feet meant the slow suction of the tide on the last seashore on the planet, where he laughed at the feel of surf and Itachi stayed back, watching, slate-grey eyes shaded against the spray of water. Ground under his feet meant two levitating hammocks and one pitcher of electrolyte-heavy lemonade on a highrise so tall they'd had to take oxygen canisters, and childlike gestures at the sky—"See that? That's Kumo in the Lightning star system, Sector Twelve—the Mirage went there last year, and can I just say—"
Through all of this there was always an unspoken come with me that Shisui never appended and Itachi never heard, but Shisui thought that they were both somehow conscious of it, the same way they had been conscious of one another's bodies in the next bunk during all the long nights at flight school. There was a push and pull to Itachi's presence that Shisui found strangely reassuring, something like the force of gravity, and a sense of things breaking when something went wrong with that uncontestable presence. He still remembered his panicked voice when Itachi had tumbled out of an antigravity simulator in their second year, and his own uniform spotted with blood from his friend's nose—"Get up! Get up, it's just an antigrav, you've done this before—"
The thing was, Shisui was a good enough commander to know that he could never ask Itachi to join the crew of the Mirage. He took care of his men, but—things happened. The nova in the Earth system that had pulverized Uchiha Obito's ship into a heap of rubble. The solar eclipse—purposely engineered, some said—that had blinded Uchiha Izuna. The rogue fleet captain who had killed Sarutobi Hiruzen two years ago, leaving an aurora of debris over the western arm of the galaxy that Shisui could still sometimes see on clear nights.
It wasn't that the government couldn't afford Itachi on the ship. It was that Shisui couldn't face watching his best friend flare into fire on some deep night, faced with the total obliteration of space death. Annihilation at the atomic level; not even the chakra-cell necklace he wore for Shisui to hold after he was gone.
The first lesson they had been taught in flight school was to learn their own limitations, and Shisui had learned them; that was all.
Madara broke his thoughts by tapping loudly on the dashboard at his end, nearly rupturing Shisui's eardrums.
"Whuh," said Shisui, blinking. Madara was still a flickery haze on the comm-link, and Shisui eyed it with as much distaste as he could muster up for an indistinct, fractaling blob.
"I said," said Madara acidly, "I have heard that you have been making some modifications to your Sharingan visor?"
"Huh?" Shisui bit his tongue. "Oh—oh, yeah, but how'd you know?"
"Have you used them often?"
"No—well, once in the Water system, on Kiri. There was this guy, Ao, giving us shit about docking protocol, and then things got kind of crazy…anyway, he had a Byakugan visor, so I tested mine out on him."
"A mind-manipulation modification, is that correct?"
Shisui's eyes widened. He hadn't even told Itachi about his visor modifications, and he was so paranoid he kept the visor on all the time, never removing it even for sleep. His experiment was a logical extension of the visor's natural applications—optical hypnosis and focus-point lasers—and was almost certainly a revolution in technology and all of that, but there were still kinks in the technique that he hadn't been able to work out.
"That's right," he said to Madara. "It's kind of in the beta stage right now. But I'm more interested in how you know about it, Captain. Itachi—"
"Haven't you ever wondered why I wanted you on board the Mangekyou, Commander?" asked Madara softly, and suddenly Shisui felt the bottom lurch out of his stomach, the way it always did when he took his first steps on firm ground. He cast a glance out of the small square window. Stars, framed in timelessness, usually the most reassuring scenery in the world, but now his mind felt uneasy.
"There is something you're going to need to do for me, Commander," said Madara. "That's why we're in here."
"What is it?"
But Madara was silent, carefully threading his fingers through his long hair. Shisui sucked nervously on his tongue and tried not to say anything stupid, which was difficult when he had absolutely no idea what was going on.
That was when Madara said the bit about taking over the moon.
After the fifth time, Shisui got it. It wasn't actually about taking over the moon. It was about using the Mangekyou to project an image onto the moon in much the way the Sharingan visor functioned, casting an illusion over whatever side of Konoha was turned towards the moon at the time.
"So it's basically taking over the moon except worse!" intoned Shisui in horror, standing up and knocking over the lava lamp he kept in the cabin for no justifiable reason. "It's taking over the moon and Konoha!"
"If you must be so provincial about it," was Madara's idiotic response.
"What did you want me to do about this?"
"I have only told you what the government's plan is," said Madara. "Obviously, however, it has not come to fruition. You will dock in less than twenty minutes, and Itachi has not done what we employed him to do. Apparently he is under the delusion that this is immoral, or something of the sort."
"Well, yeah," cried Shisui, not remotely surprised at this. "Because it is!"
"It does not matter," said Madara. "A significant amount of funding has been spent on developing the Mangekyou and training Itachi specifically to use it. He is the only one who can at this point, and his refusal to do so drasticallyundermines our operation."
"So why'd you develop it in the first place?"
"Because he was initially enthusiastic about the operation," said Madara, and the life went out of Shisui's argument. He collapsed on the small cabin bunk and stared at his hands. Itachi couldn't, with his—but Shisui thought of his friend working overtime at his tedious government job, regulating space travel all over Konoha and striving fruitlessly to keep various factions within the planet from sending the entire thing up in a mushroom cloud. Eternal hypnosis must have seemed appealing to him at some point. Shisui couldn't begrudge him that.
He could, however, resolve to punch Itachi in the teeth next time he saw him—but not too hard, since he had, apparently, made the correct choice in the end.
"What I want you to do," said Madara, "is—"
"—use my visor on Itachi," said Shisui slowly, as understanding dawned on him. Horror broke and swam around in his veins, and he lurched up. "Fuck, you can't honestly be that deluded. What made you think I was going to say yes?"
He snatched up the holographic platform and comm-link and ran to the bridge, where there was a slight haze of atmosphere just shimmering outside the huge front window. Itachi was nowhere to be seen. Shisui looked around for the interns and suddenly felt as if he'd been knifed in the stomach—in the tiny chamber separating the bridge from the escape pods was Hinata's face, looking imploring, her hands punching wildly at the glass window. Shisui could see a tuft of pink hair beyond her. They had been remotely locked out. The door was chakra-powered, and he couldn't open it.
The Mangekyou was docking in twelve minutes, and he no longer had a crew.
"You will say yes," said Madara's scratchy voice from the comm-link, "because you have no other choice."
"Retract external arms!"yelled Shisui furiously into the manual command module. "Release liquid nitrogen buffer! Release! Release! Goddamnit!"
"It's no use. I've blocked your chakra supply. This ship is in free fall, Commander Uchiha."
"You can't do that!"
"Oh, I can, Commander, I assure you. I'm still captain of this ship, and I have remote access privileges you cannot override. Itachi is the only one with the codes, and I will cut off your crew's oxygen supply if he so much as approaches the bridge."
Terror made Shisui's vision blurry at the edges. It was coming—the great disaster he had known to watch for through his entire career, and as the blue-green surface of Konoha swam into view outside the window, he thought he knew how it would be. He had always envisioned a death by fire, but it was water that would destroy him in the end. The incandescent ship, ravaged by the atmosphere, falling into the wide ocean like a marble thrown by a child, and somewhere on the ship, Itachi, whom despite the distances and the years and the looks over his shoulder as the Mirage lifted off, he had not been able to save.
Oh god, Itachi, he thought—you made the right choice, and I'll make it too, so just stay alive, please—
"Live long and prosper, Commander Uchiha," said Madara mockingly, and then Itachi walked in.
"What's that? Who is that?" snapped Madara, seeing the figure walk on from the other end of the bridge. Shisui was surprised at the question until he actually registered what Itachi was wearing, and then his jaw dropped. Itachi had apparently pilfered a silver uniform from one of the girls, and his hair was down, spilling down his back. He kept his face downcast and his posture hunched, and so Shisui barely even had to think in saying "…It's Hinata, one of our interns—she must've been caught on the bridge when you locked everyone out—"
Nara Shikamaru, he thought feverishly as Madara slapped his communicator, I will buy you a fucking gift basket for not fixing our comm-links, seriously, because by the time Madara realizes…
"No, Hyuuga Hinata is in the antechamber with—Itachi!" shrieked Madara, but in the twenty seconds of stalling, Itachi had already typed in his override codes. Lights hummed, and the Mangekyou flared back into life like a great beast. And Shisui threw the comm-link down, lifted Itachi into the air, and kissed him, shaking and relieved and sort of thrilled that even in the middle of a fucking code red, he could still appreciate the fact that Itachi's hair was as soft as he'd always thought it would be—at flight school, on the levi-hammock, at night on the bridge, watching solar flares dapple the surface of his friend's skin. Itachi kissed him back for about half a second before pushing him away and muttering something about criminal masterminds, but that half a second was all Shisui really needed to validate—maybe not his entire existence, but certainly the last twelve minutes of hell.
He checked the analog timer mounted on one wall. T-2, and he could actually distinguish the shapes of individual countries outside the window, good god—then his eyes fell on the interns in the antechamber, and he suddenly knew what to do.
"We're going to have to wreck the ship," he said. "So Madara can't use it anymore."
Itachi nodded, and they ran for the chamber and squeezed into the midst of the interns. They began popping locks and twisting manual overrides to release the escape pods. Suddenly there was a mechanical whine and artificial gravity abruptly disengaged, hurling them all against the ceiling of the chamber. Shisui cursed, and several interns screamed. Huge tongues of fire were licking past the outside of the ship, and in the absence of the mandatory nitrogen buffers Shisui could feel the heat, and hear machinery cracking on the outside hull. Sakura was actually crying. Rock Lee, for once, was quiet. Shisui gave them all an encouraging smile, thinking that if he was going to spend his last few moments as Bridge Commander of the Starship Mangekyou, he had better do them right, damnit.
"So since we're all going to die," he yelled, over the scream of popping rivets, "can I just say that you look really great in that miniskirt?"
Itachi's cheeks flared red, a sight Shisui was probably going to cherish for the rest of his life, all one minute and forty-eight seconds of it. He slammed a dislodged metal beam into the door and freed the first escape pod. Hyuuga Neji grabbed Sakura and his cousin and nearly flung them into it. Sasuke, catching what Shisui was trying to do, began pounding on one of the other doors. Ino joined him.
One minute and thirty-seven seconds.
"Or," yelled Shisui, "that I've always wanted you to quit your stupid job and come away with me on the Mirage?"
Three pods freed, and Sasuke grabbed his brother's hand and tried to pull him in, but Itachi shook his head. Even in the apocalyptic light from the window, he was beautiful enough to make Shisui feel a little dizzy, a little disoriented, a little hot, like a permanent strain of starsickness in his veins. This was their first voyage together, but they'd traveled lightyears before that. And he'd never told him, but this was the time to remedy that. As Shisui struck the last pod free, splitting his knuckles in the process, he said, "Or that I lov—"
There was another harsh whine, and then the ship's chakra supply went dead again, but somehow, miraculously, the pods were still pulling away. Shisui whipped around and stared at Ino, who was a small stricken figure through the glass of her escape pod. "Ino," he yelled. "You forgot the electromagnet, didn't you?"
Ino nodded, and Shisui couldn't resist a whoop of triumph, punching his fist into the air. "Let's hear it for incompetence! Guys, I'll see you on Konoha, because we're getting out of here alive!"
Two of the Mangekyou's three arms gave in and snapped off, and the ship abruptly went into a tailspin. In the pods, they were all protected, but as they began to spin, Shisui knew they'd need ballast, or they would all be hurled arbitrarily into Konoha's atmosphere with no mechanism of breaking their fall.
"Ballast!" he cried to Itachi. "If we can remotely deploy all the parachutes from our pod—it only takes a little bit of chakra, but we don't have it—"
"Get in the pod, Shisui," shouted Itachi.
Shisui's entire mind went cold. "No," he shouted back, "Not without you," and how many space vidreels had he watched, melodramatically wailing out that line and snickering with the rest of his testosterone-overdosed roommates? It served him right, because now every pore of his skin was alive with it, not without you, and it seemed as if he would never think anything else again. A blast of heat from the outside raised blisters on the back of his neck and tears in Itachi's eyes. Shisui reached for his hand, and Itachi drew back and hit him in the shoulder, sending him falling backwards into the pod.
"No!" he screamed. "Itachi—"
As if in a daze he watched Itachi kick each pod outwards into the sky, his crew members disappearing in wreaths of cloud and smoke and fire. And then Itachi scrambled into his own pod, jolted the door shut, and knocked them out of the collapsing Mangekyou.
The world ended. They spun in a haze of fire, but even through this Shisui could see the sea opening up beneath them like a screaming mouth, and he was sure he'd broken something, slammed against the ceiling of the escape pod, skin flapping in the g-force—
"Hold—on—" said Itachi, and then, at fourteen seconds, he ripped off his chakra-cell necklace and fed all three links into the input slot.
The breath was knocked back into Shisui's lungs as hundreds of little lights flickered on all over the inside of the pod. "Welcome," said the automated voice cleanly. "Now approaching Konoha's southern ocean, latitude—"
"Parachutes," gasped Shisui, sucking in great lungfuls of air and unable to stop the rattling in his chest. Even as they fell he reached for the controls, first stabilizing them, shooting out their nitrogen buffer, and sending jets of liquid outwards to quell the flames. He punched his commander's code into the manual drive and called up the locations of the other five pods.
"They are going to crash!" cried Itachi.
"No," said Shisui, pulling levers frantically. "No, they're not—"
"Manual override?" said the computer. "Take action for all pods?"
"Yes!" screamed Shisui.
And like triumphant fireworks, the parachutes deployed over all six pods, just as the fiery remnants of the Starship Mangekyou were submerged in the ocean below.
When Shisui came to, Itachi was sponging osmotic nutrients over his forehead. The chemical supplement sent little jitters of energy all the way down his spine. As soon as he could lift his head, he reached up, grabbed the cloth Itachi was using, and threw it away, pulling Itachi down to him for a kiss.
In the pod's darkness, the little lights of the dash and the emergency beacons were pinpricks over Itachi's skin, catching in his hair, pooling in his eyes, liquid-lovely. Shisui only caught a glimpse of them before closing his again. Itachi's kiss was so perfect Shisui thought it was worth surviving just for this, Itachi's cautious little tongue, the firmness of his bottom lip. The taste of him, like smoke and what Shisui had once imagined stars might be like, when he was small.
"Shisui," said Itachi quietly, when Shisui drew back for a moment. "What you said, in the ship—"
"What?" Shisui thought. "That you looked good in the mini—"
"No. After that."
Shisui grinned. Apparently, he and Itachi had been watching the same sappy vidreels at flight school, because he knew exactly what he was talking about. He pulled Itachi a little closer, letting him settle between his thighs, and whispered the uncompleted sentence into the top of his hair, four-letter word and all. And then, feeling Itachi's heart knocking against his ribcage, he thought maybe he should have said it earlier, maybe when Itachi was just the antisocial creeper in the next edu-cubicle, maybe when he was fourteen and turned a little red every time Itachi sighed or tossed in the next bunk, maybe when he'd pulled off for his first trip on the Mirage, unable to shake the feeling that he should have been running all the way back home to the highrises instead. To the two hammocks on the highest building—and maybe then the sentence should have been, "See that? I'll take you there someday."
Itachi's response to this emotional declaration, in typical fashion, was "Madara is not going to allow us to go free. We are going to have to leave Konoha immediately, and we do not have a ship—"
"We have a ship," said Shisui. "She's called the Mirage, and she's been waiting for my blushing bride since day one, in case you haven't heard."
"I am no such thing," said Itachi stiffly, but he proved this wrong by merely existing, so Shisui didn't really care. He wondered if the uncommonly stupid smile on his own face was some kind of retroactive PTSD .
Then Itachi was kissing him again, soft and a little testing, because he was kind of a sociopath and that sort of thing took a little bit of wearing down. But Shisui was good at wearing things down, and as he thought this his eyes fell on the miniskirt again, and at Itachi's miles and miles of pale legs underneath it, cool as silk in the darkness. Shisui smirked and slipped his hand up, up under the miniskirt and over the smooth jut of Itachi's hip.
"So," he asked conversationally. "Are you going to let me boldly go where no man has gone before?"
"In an escape pod?" said Itachi, his voice leaking venom.
"It's the venue you object to, then?"
Itachi turned his head away in a manner which was apparently supposed to indicate irritation of some kind, but the miniskirt afforded Shisui a pretty good feel—literally—of how things were going to progress, and he didn't think huffy rebuffs were going to play a major role. He slid his other hand up under Itachi's shirt.
"Come on," he whispered into his best friend's neck. "Let's have an intergalactic bachelorhood of undiluted awesome."
"It's the final frontier!" said Shisui grandiosely, and then Itachi kissed him, presumably to shut him up for once, and there were no further explanations needed.