Written for The Great Ita/Shi Advent Calendar on the bitter_nakano community on LJ. A huge thank you goes out to SkywardShadow for betaing and putting up with my twisted mind.

I don't own Naruto.

~ Another Spring Song ~

A love story in five acts

Act One:

Contrary to popular belief, Shisui Uchiha hated water. As to why, he had no idea. It had just always been like that – even the prospect of having to sit in a bathtub raised the fear to drown, and he always downright refused to use a bathtub as soon as he had been old enough to voice his opinion. Taking a shower worked just fine, thank you very much.

Shisui had also no idea why people always thought the water would be his element. It was because it was in his name, he guessed. But yeah, fuck that. His name also contained the kanji for "death", and if that wasn't a bad omen he didn't know what else could be one. Not that he usually believed in superstitions and stuff, but it was better to be careful.

So this was why he sat on the solid ground instead of playing and swimming with his distantly related cousins (or whatever the hell they were – he had never given much thought about degree of kinship that bound him to the strange and irrefragably huge family, because he didn't even know half of them), all the time keeping a safe distance from the lake and scowling at the water as if it threatened to attack him any minute.

Sometimes he really hated his life. It wasn't that he had been very keen on spending time with kids he had met for the first time in his life today, but if they insisted on doing something and dragged him along without even asking for his consent, why in the world did they have to pick swimmingof all things to kill the time? There were so many other things to do, but nooooo...this was just his luck.

Shisui didn't even pay attention to the children screaming and scuffling and splashing about while wallowing in his misery. This was such a pain. His father had never really attended the social gatherings of the Uchiha clan before, and Shisui would have very much preferred it stayed this way. For some inscrutable reason, though, his father had felt the sudden urge to attend the wedding ceremony of his...well, what was it again? Second cousin of the brother of his sister-in-law or something (he was getting a headache by just trying to understand this), and he had had been as kind as to insiston Shisui dragging along (note the sarcasm!), ignoring all of his son's pleas to be allowed to stay at home. His father obviously feared that letting Shisui home alone would result in him throwing a huge party, thus devastating the entire house...which, as Shisui had to admit, would have been a tantalizing prospect. Better than being stuck with the bunch of stern, arrogant, uptight, yet slightly eccentric spoilsports of which his family consisted.

Shisui sighed and ran his fingers through his short, spiky black hair, silently asking himself how he would stand the rest of the week when he was already nearing a mental breakdown after having been here for a grand total of two hours.

He heard the sound of light footsteps and the rustling of grass as someone approached him. "Shisui-nii-san," the person addressed him. The voice was cool, yet soft, and pleasantly unagitated. "Would you like to join us?"

Shisui was surprised someone in his family actually knew his name, but this surprise was nothing against the shock he got when he turned around to face the other Uchiha. He blinked. Rapidly. And then he blinked again, unable to tear his gaze from the person before him.

A boy, probably around his age, maybe a bit younger, was staring down at him. Silky black hair was floating over his shoulder, only restrained by the ponytail it was tied into, and warm dark eyes observed him almost curiously from under long eyelashes, the dark colours making a great contrast to the creamy white skin of his angelic face. Shisui's gaze automatically dropped down to his bare chest which –

Shisui almost choked on his own spit as he snapped out of his train of thoughts, realizing what he had been thinking. Oh no, he had not just been ogling one of his relatives, who was, to top it off, a boy. No way. No. Just...no. He was not gay. He downright refused to even consider this. He'd kissed girls before, even had a girlfriend for a few weeks. He was most definitely straight. He'd probably only been staring at him because the boy did have somewhat girlish features (because honestly, no guy should be allowed to look so breathtakingly beautiful – oh god he had not just thought that!) and well, being the teenager he was it was probably totally normal to be confused by the overload of hormones his body was producing in those years, right? Right?

Just when a hint of concern started to show on the boys face (who was probably questioning Shisui's sanity by now) he got a grip on himself. "I – uh – I think I'll sit out this one," he spluttered, flashing a both nervous and apologetic smile and hoping that he had not made a complete fool out of himself.

"Oh." Did he just imagine this, or did the boy actually look a little bit disappointed? "That's a shame. Maybe another time, then?"

Okay, either this guy was annoyed by having ten younger kids bopping around him all the time and desperately searching for someone his age to hang out with, or he was simply too nice for his own good. When being his age, Shisui thought, he would have stomped right off after receiving a 'no', never to ask again. "I don't think so," he replied slowly, shifting uncomfortably and chewing on his lower lip as he tried to come up with a good reason as to why he did not want to join them that did not include him indirectly revealing that he was scared of water.

Unfortunately, he found none.

"I- uh- well, swimming is not really my favourite pastime activity." God, he sounded like a nervous schoolgirl stuttering as she tried to confess her undying love to her crush or something. And of course, the other boy picked up on this.

"Ah," was all he said. "I see."

Instead of leaving it at that and leaving Shisui to inwardly repeat his wish for a hole in the ground to open up and swallow him so that he could die from embarrassment, the boy sat down next to him, observing him pensively. "I could teach you," he offered then in his low, melodic voice.

Oh yeah, that was Shisui's dream come true. He had always wanted to completely ridicule himself in front of the convened Uchiha clan. He would have preferred to strangle himself with one of his father's ugly and embarrassingly colourful ties.

Furthermore, he had not forgotten how his last swimming lesson had ended – if you could call it a swimming lesson at all. Rather, it had consisted in his father throwing a small, five-year-old Shisui into a river and waiting for his son to start swimming back to him, all the while yelling not so helpful instructions and watching, completely relaxed, how his son swallowed the daily potable water consumption of at least three elephants in as many minutes. The only positive thing to say about this 'lesson' was that Shisui had, surprisingly enough, survived and had also gotten the hang of how to paddle like a dog and almost managed to keep the head above the water.

"Thanks for the offer, but I'd rather save myself the humiliation," Shisui pressed through gritted teeth, his eyes flying over to where the little children were still splashing around in the lake.

The other smiled understandingly. "We could do it when no one can see us," he noted, completely oblivious to the fact that Shisui's mind was turning those innocent words into something a lot more suggestive. Shisui suppressed the urge to bang his head on something, preferably, something very hard, to banish these scary and definitely X-rated thoughts from his mind. "I am Itachi, by the way," he added, finally introducing himself.

It seemed he wanted to say something more, but was interrupted by a high-pitched, whining voice sounding from the lake. "Nii-san!"

Immediately, Itachi's head whirled around, his whole body tense and only relaxing when he saw the small, dark-haired boy bouncing impatiently up and down at the waterside. "Come, Nii-san! You promised you would play with me. Pleeeeeaaaaaase?"

"I'm coming, Sasuke," Itachi called back before turning around to Shisui again, smiling apologetically. "Please excuse me, Shisui-san. My brother awaits me," he said formally, getting up. "I look forward to meeting you again. Just let me know if you want to accept my offer."

"Yeah, thanks. Have fun."

Shisui tried very hard not to drool as he admired the view he got as Itachi strode away.

When Shisui finally entered the corridor leading to the huge dining room after getting lost at least four time – his sense of direction and orientation had always been pretty retarded and this compound was fucking huge – the first thing he saw was Itachi leaning against one of the white walls casually, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his jeans and some strands of his hair hanging loosely in his face. He might as well have sprung up from some kind of TV advertisement for clothes or perfumes, if it hadn't been for his actually buttoned up shirt (at least for some reason Shisui was under the impression that those awfully handsome models in the ads always ran around half naked).

Shisui swallowed down the nervous flutter that was building up in his stomach and walked over to him. "Yo," he greeted Itachi.

Itachi flashed him a genuine smile. "Good evening, Shisui-san."

Shisui rolled his eyes. "You should definitely quit the suffixes, you know? I'm not really fond of them – makes me feel as if I were an old hag."

Itachi's lips twitched upwards in response. "Fine then. No more suffixes."

"You waiting for someone?" Shisui inquired, leaning against the wall as well.

Itachi nodded. "Yes, I'm waiting for my brother Sasuke in order to make sure he finds our table this time – he has the tendency of getting lost in the dining room with all those tables in there, which is, of course, ridiculous..."

"Speaking of seating arrangements – do you have any idea where I am supposed to sit?"

"I have arranged for your father and you to sit with my parents, Sasuke and myself," Itachi answered simply. "I hope that is convenient for you."

Shisui blinked. He wouldn't have expected Itachi to be so forward as to organize something like that without asking. Not that he minded, of course. The family dinner shouldn't be as awkward for him when he was seated next to someone he might actually come to like.

Just when he assured Itachi that he didn't have a problem at all, Sasuke skidded around the corner, coming to a halt just in time to not crash into the opposite wall. He darted forward then to fling his small arms around his brother's waist, as if he hadn't seen him in years. Shisui raised an eyebrow, thinking that Itachi's brother was, although being cute, a) too hyperactive for his taste and b) probably had an attention issue. Itachi didn't seem to find this discomforting at all, though. He simply took Sasuke by the hand and gestured Shisui to follow as he lead them to their table where he was introduced to Itachi's parents.

In the course of the evening, Shisui realized a lot of things:

1) Sasuke was a tiny ball of annoying joy, but undeniably cute. Somehow, in a remote corner of his heart, Shisui found he could understand why Itachi was so obsessed with his little brother. He was adorable, but he knew damn well how to get everyone to give him what he wanted. He just knew how to manipulate people. It was kind of scary to see this small boy being able twist everyone around his little finger, and Shisui was sure that the boy would turn out to be quite the devil when growing up.

2) Mikoto was even nicer than Itachi. Not to mention she was pretty hot (for her age, at least – after all, she wasold enough to be his mother, so he wasn't really checking her out, but yeah, she was hot). It was easy to tell that Itachi got his good looks from his mother, not from his stick-in-the-mud father. Mikoto was a lot more talkative, though, but maybe that was only because she was a woman. Women always talked that much, right?

3) Shisui also found that he didn't like Fugaku very much. And apparently, that feeling was absolutely mutual. But honestly, the guy had the charisma of an ice cube. No, scratch that, that would be an insult towards the ice cube. He asked himself how Fugaku had managed to get such a great wife in the first place, being the way he was. Even Shisui's father, who was usually the most laid-back person he knew, seemed to shrink and tense in Fugaku's presence.

4) He still thought that Itachi was beautiful. More so than his mother. It turned out to be quite a scary thought. Or maybe not as scary as the other thoughts and images and fantasies that invaded his mind every time he looked at him.

Of course, the easiest solution would have been to simply not look at Itachi anymore.

Unfortunately, Shisui found himself unable to do so. Instead, he noticed not without some horror that he was actually considering Itachi's offer to teach him how to swim, just so that he could admire him shirtless again.

It was in that very moment that Shisui realized that his life had just taken an abrupt and irreversible route straight into hell.

"So, you and Itachi, hm?"

Shisui nearly jumped at his father's casual question and stared at him in horror, all the colour draining from his face. "W-What?" he choked out, all the while reiterating in his head: "Oh my god, he doesn't know, does he? Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god..."

His father seemed to be bemused. "I was under the impression that you befriended him. Was I mistaken?"

Relief washed over Shisui like a river. "Oh...uh...well, yeah."

"'Yeah' what?"

"Yeah, we are friends...I think." He scratched the back of his head nervously, feeling extremely dumb. And fucked up. One day with his kinky, screwed-up family and his life turned upside down, making him go completely mental, and paranoid on top of that. Then again, caution was probably advisable, because if Fugaku ever were to find out Shisui nursed not so heterosexual thoughts about his eldest son he would undoubtedly kick his sorry ass into the next country, but not without ripping him to pieces first.

To be completely honest, it seemed that Fugaku already felt very much like doing exactly that to Shisui for only befriending his son, which wasn't surprising. After all, Itachi was something like the poster child of the Uchiha family. You know, all brains and good manners and dutiful and reserved and stuff.

Shisui was none of that.

Of course he could behave when he wanted to. Of coursehe could go all like "Yes, Fugaku-sama, what do you want, Fugaku-sama, can I kiss your feet, Fugaku-sama?" like the rest of the Uchiha clan did (because, for some unknown reason, Fugaku Uchiha seemed to be the most important person in this family), and he would be perfectly admitted to the ranks of lickspittles most of the Uchiha were. Of coursehis school reports could be better if he finally decided to make an effort and actually participate in the oh so boring lessons and if he stopped opposing and annoying the lame teachers just for fun. Of course he could. Maybe then Fugaku Uchiha wouldn't be as opposed to the idea of Itachi hanging out with him. But his life wouldn't be half as much fun as it was now, and Shisui found it was not worth giving up his current lifestyle for this arguable assumption: Firstly, because Itachi didn't seem to care at all whether his father approved of Shisui or not, and secondly, because even if he did all of those things, Shisui was still his father's son. And being that, he would always have it tough if he wanted to fit in with the Uchiha.

Whether most of the Uchiha family didn't like his father because he usually avoided them or whether it was the other way round, Shisui didn't know. And frankly, he didn't care. Just like his father, he had never wanted to have anything to do with anything – or anyone - involving his family. He still didn't completely understand when or why this had changed. Why did he actually want to be Itachi's friend (and maybe even more than that, although he still dreaded to admit that), when Itachi was an Uchiha all the way, aside from his frequent smiles?

With a sigh, Shisui crawled under his blanket, trying very hard to push every thought concerning Itachi Uchiha far, far away. Maybe this confusion was really caused by an overproduction of hormones and tomorrow the world would be back to normal. Shisui definitely hoped so.

However, knowing his luck and life's tendency to fuck with him, this was very unlikely.

Act two:

When Shisui awoke in the morning to the sun shining into his face and the birds chirping outside, he smiled despite himself. This could actually become a great day, he thought. First, he would go down now to dig into the rich breakfast buffet that was sure to be found in the dining room, and then he would meet Ita-

Oh, right. Itachi.

Shisui felt an uncomfortable knot form in his stomach, telling him that the world indeed hadn't changed overnight. He both dreaded and looked forward to seeing his cousin and hanging out with him, getting to know him better, seeing him smile, no, making him smile and –

Oh god!

Groaning, Shisui let his head fall back onto the pillow and covered his face with his hands in shame. He was going all "lovesick puppy mode" on his cousin, something he thought he would have long since outgrown. The fact that he was behaving rather like a thirteen-year-old crushing on someone than like an almost-adult was embarrassing enough itself, but that the object of his desires was his male blood relative made it even creepier. Maybe he should go visit a psychologist to find out what the hell was wrong with him.

"Are you going to get up anytime soon or do I have to go downstairs alone?" a slightly amused and already all too familiar voice sounded through the room. Shisui yelped and sat up hurriedly, unable to suppress the blush spreading rapidly over his face. There, on the threshold to his room, stood Itachi in all his sex-god glory, hands buried deep inside the pockets of his jeans and leaning against the doorframe while the corners of his lips lifted into something that sort of resembled a smile. "I hope I did not startle you."

Shisui swallowed, trying to restrain the butterflies fluttering in his stomach. "What are you doing in my room?" he asked somewhat accusingly. Not that he wasn't happy to see Itachi around, but it kinda concealed his inappropriate emotions if he acted a bit distant, he guessed.

"Technically I am not inyour room," Itachi remarked smartly. "However, I did come to pick you up for breakfast. Are you coming?"

Shisui blinked as his brain tried to process his words. "Uh- sure, I'll just – get dressed, okay?"

Itachi nodded, satisfied, and moved to give him some privacy. "I will wait for you outside."

Shisui felt like singing while he rummaged through his clothes in order to find something that didn't look completely outdated and was still wearable. Eventually, he found the dark blue Fan-T-Shirt of his favourite band. He sniffed at it and since he deemed it fresh enough to wear it today, Shisui pulled it over his head, splashed a little bit of cold water in his face (not that he actually needed this to wake up, Itachi's presence had done the job quite well) and hurried out of the room, not wanting to make Itachi wait too long.

Walking through the corridor next to his new friend, Shisui couldn't help but grin like a maniac. He felt so cheerful it was ridiculous. He realised then that he hadn't been in love for a long time. And that he had never been quite as much in love as this time.

The smirk slid off his face.

He had officially thought it. As much as he liked pretending, there was no denying it anymore, at least not towards himself.

He was in love with Itachi.

Shisui inhaled deeply. Okay. So he was in love with his cousin. His male cousin.

Maybe if he kept on repeating these sentences in his head, it wouldn't sound quite as bad eventually.

Shisui scowled.

He should've known that if a day that started that good it wouldn't last. Itachi had suggested they took a tour around the city to show Shisui all the interesting sights and the best places to hang out, but that plan had ended in smoke before they had even had the chance to finish their breakfast; rain was pouring down so hard that no one could actually consider setting a foot outside the door. So obviously, the only logical conclusion was to spend the day somewhere in the compound, which would most likely result in them having to entertain those annoying, overjoyed brats instead of spending some alone time (Shisui cringed inwardly at the dating vocabulary) with Itachi.

"Hn" he grunted irritably. "Stupid rain." Frustrated, he turned to face Itachi. "Any proposition for what we could do now?"

Next to him, Itachi sighed. "There is not much one can do here when it rains," he stated matter-of-factly.

"Well, what do you usually do when it does?"

"...I read, mostly, when I am not spending time with Sasuke."

"You...read," Shisui repeated slowly. Well, that was not half as exciting as he had hoped it would be, and not exactly something you could do together...but if it meant they could flee from the children he'd most definitely be in. "Fine, then. Let's go to your room. You can read, but don't be hacked off if I throw in random comments and interrupt you because I suddenly feel the need to talk."

"But won't you be bored?" Itachi frowned, albeit clearly contemplating it.

Shisui grinned. "Nah. I will find a way to entertain myself, even if it's only by annoying you. Believe me; I will probably talk a lot, so you won't get to read much."

Itachi's lips twitched with amusement, but he agreed nevertheless and led Shisui to the room he shared with his younger brother. Looking around after stepping in, Shisui couldn't help but raise his eyebrows. The first thing that caught his eye was how big the room was – he had thought the room he stayed in was big, but this topped everything. There was even a fireplace in this room, for god's sake! Somehow he had the feeling he had just walked into a picture in a furniture catalogue, because everything was so tidy that it was impossible to believe someone was actually living and sleeping in there. And he was pretty sure this wasn't Sasuke's doing.

"You are kinda fanatic when it comes to orderliness, huh?" he asked Itachi, who merely shrugged in response.

"Maybe," he answered before strolling over to the bookshelf.

Shisui followed him slowly. "So, what are you reading at the moment?" he asked, scanning the books. It wasn't that he didn't like to read – he just preferred to spend his free time with his friends.


Shisui blinked. "Oh, yeah, we had to read this for school, too. Hamlet. 'To be or not to be, that is the question', or something like that. What do you have to read?"

Itachi shook his head. "I don't have to read anything. It's not for school."

"You mean you are reading this stuff voluntarily?" Shisui gasped. "Are you mad?"

"I find it quite enjoyable," Itachi replied stoically.

"Sorry. I forgot you are totally an Uchiha."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Whatever." Shisui let himself plop down onto the rug in front of the fireplace, enjoying the heat the crackling wood emanated, and yawned. For some reason he found he was quite tired. Deciding a little nap couldn't hurt, he sprawled over soft the carpet until he found a comfortable position. He was just about to close his eyes when Itachi surprised him yet again by not taking a seat in one of the armchairs but instead lowering himself on the carpet right next to Shisui, leaning his back against one of said chairs.



"Can I ask you a question?"

"Of course you can." Itachi seemed to be mildly surprised.

"What does your girlfriend say about you always burying your nose in those books?"

Itachi blinked. "I don't have a girlfriend," he said slowly, shifting uncomfortably. Apparently he had picked a touchy subject. Interesting.

"Really? How come?" Shisui asked. "I could've bet the girls are always fawning all over you."

"I don't have time for a girlfriend," his cousin answered brusquely, and Shisui found himself lamenting that he hadn't said 'I don't want a girlfriend'. Not that this would've proven anything or made anything better, because even if he had said that, it didn't necessarily mean he was interested in men. To be precise, Shisui highly doubted Itachi was - despite his somewhat girly features - anything but straight.

Then again, two days ago he still had thought he was completely straight, only to be drastically proven wrong.

God, how his life sucked. If he had to fall for a guy, couldn't it at least be one where there was at least a slight chance that he would return his feelings?

"Maybe you should try Shakespeare one day," Itachi commented, changing the topic. "It is not as boring as you think. On the contrary, it can be very entertaining."

"Sure." Shisui rolled his eyes. "Okay, prove it to me."

Itachi quirked one of his delicate eyebrows. Damn, wasn't there at least one thing about him that wasn't perfect? "And how do you suggest I do this?"

Shisui grinned. "Read it to me. If I don't fall asleep, you win. I will agree that Shakespeare isn't boring. If I do fall asleep...well, I'll think of something I'll make you do then."

His cousin hesitated for a moment, clearly deliberating about whether it was worth it, seeing how he could probably imagine that whatever Shisui would make him do if he lost would be very, very embarrassing. Finally, he nodded. "Alright."

"So, what will be my bedtime story tonight?" Shisui asked tauntingly.

Itachi gave him a blank look, completely ignoring the elder's mockery. "I started reading 'The Merchant of Venice' yesterday – is that convenient for you?"

Shisui waved his hand to signal him he didn't care at all. "Go ahead."

Itachi smirked, flipped the book open and began to read: "'In sooth, I know not why I am so sad. It wearies me: you say, it wearies you; But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, what stuff't is made of, whereof it is born, I am to learn...'"

Soon enough, although he had tried very hard not to, Shisui found himself drawn into the story, less because it actually interested him, but rather because Itachi had a way of reading that captivated his attention. As cheesy as it sounded, he could have listened to Itachi talking forever. His cousin had the most soothing and velvety voice he had ever heard, and yes, on any other occasion this would have lulled him into sleep. But now his body was almost painfully aware of just how close Itachi was, not more than an arm's length away from him, so that if he stretched his limb he would be able to brush away the silky black hair and touch the soft skin at the crook of his neck. Knowing that he couldn't actually do this, though, Shisui had settled for shifting to lie on his side, one elbow propped up on the ground so that he could lay his head into the palm of his hand and watch Itachi intently, memorizing the way his lips moved or how he brushed his hair out of his face or how his eyes shifted to him ever so often to make sure he was still awake.

Suddenly, Shisui was extremely grateful for Shakespeare to give him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to admire Itachi without provoking suspicion, especially when Itachi somehow ended up lying next to him on the carpet, his face so damn close to his had there not been the book that separated them. He could just feign interest in the story while his thoughts were in reality only circling around the person lying next to him - although he had to admit that the play really was pretty good; everything was more interesting when you weren't forced to do it, for example in school, but when you could do it with someone you liked, he guessed.

They were almost halfway through the play when an unwelcome (on Shisui's side at least) interruption in the form of Itachi's younger brother came about. "Nii-san!" His voice sounded through the corridors long before he had reached the room, announcing his arrival. Shisui rolled his eyes. Why did children have to be so loud?

"Nii-san!" Sasuke cried out as he stormed into the room.

Immediately, Itachi put the Shakespeare book aside and sat up again. "What is it, Sasuke?"

"Will you come and play with me, pleeeeaaase? I haven't seen you all day. And the other kids aren't as much fun to play with," he whined, putting on the cutest face he could master, and Shisui knew that Itachi wouldn't be able to say no. Shisui sighed. There simply was no escaping this brat.

Itachi sent him an apologetic look to which Shisui only responded by rolling his eyes, thus granting him permission to leave with his brother – he knew Itachi would most likely prefer spending time with Sasuke right now anyway. It was strange how they could read each other so well after only two days.

Itachi smiled at him before grabbing his brother's hand. "I'm coming, Sasuke. I'll see you at dinner, Shisui."

"Yeah, sure," Shisui replied tiredly. As he watched the brothers departing from the room - Sasuke jumping into Itachi's arms and giving his beloved elder brother a quick kiss on the cheek before happily burying his face in his shoulder – Shisui couldn't help but think how much he envied the kid.

That night, Shisui did something he hadn't done in...well, ever:

He called up his supposedly best friend.

"Oh my god, I think the world is ending," Hana Inuzuka said as she picked up her phone. "Is that really you calling me, Shisui, or is someone else on the phone who dialled the wrong number? Hey – I didn't even know you had my number!"

Shisui rolled his eyes before it occurred to him that Hana couldn't actually see it. "Don't be ridiculous, of course I have your number."

Hana Inuzuka was – and that was for sure – the most obnoxious, loud-mouthed and hot-tempered person he had ever met; a real pain in the ass, as he liked to say. He usually called her squaller, because it annoyed her. She called him nitwit, dumbass, numskull, moron, git...or whatever other word which could be used as a synonym for 'idiot' that came into her mind. Shisui liked to say their constant bickering was a sign of their mutual love, and it probably was. He was always glad when she called him names. As long as she called him names, she was in a good mood. It was when she stopped the bickering that he knew he had to make a run for it.

The reason he never called Hana was a) because he hated to talk on the phone and rather walked down the street to her house when there was something urgent, and b) because the only times he ever might have called her, provided that it was urgent and it was no decent time to go over to her place (which usually meant he was heartbroken and lovelorn), she somehowalways knew about the whole issue before he had told her, and consequently phoned him before he could even dial her number. Shisui had absolutely no idea where Hana got all that information from that fast (because honestly, how could she know the girl had broken up with him and call him only five minutes after this had happened to comfort him?) and he wasn't sure whether he wanted to know. It was kind of spooky how well informed she was about everything going on in his life. Maybe she stalked him or something.

"So, imbecile, are you going to tell me what has happened before I lie in the grave or what?" Hana's impatient voice cut through short silence that had ensued.

"Well," Shisui stuttered. "Well, you know, there is this cousin of mine, you see, and I...I think I...I kinda, maybe...sorta like him more than I had originally planned, you know, and-"

He could almost hear her rolling her eyes. "Care to be a bit more precise and actually form understandable sentences, airhead?"

Shisui inhaled deeply, gathering all the courage he could muster. "I think I'm in love with my male cousin," he spluttered.

There. It was out. Now this wasn't just a stupid notion in his head anymore. Bur surely Hana would know a solution to get him out of this stupid and awkward situation. Yeah, definitely – not.

Obviously, Hana was extremely unimpressed. "So what are you calling up me for, dumbass?"

Shisui blinked. Maybe she hadn't understood him correctly. "I said I-"

"I heard what you said the first time, you moron, I'm not deaf," Hana interrupted him. "I just don't really see you problem."

"Well, irrespective of the fact that the impact of discovering my true sexual orientation so abruptly and irrevocably might have caused a fatal psychological trauma, I daresay my family is going to be a huge problem, because they're fucking going to skin me alive!"

"Oh, don't be such a crybaby," Hana scolded him. "There's nothing wrong with being gay. And now get your ass up and snag the boy – or do you need my advice and help to get a date? No? Good. I'll call you tomorrow, then. Bye. Sleep well, nitwit."

"'Night," Shisui murmured, but she had already hung up.

God, he was never ever calling her again.

Act Three:

The following day, the weather actually meant well with them, and so it was time finally time for the tour around the city with Itachi, and onlywith Itachi. Shisui was cheerful. No little annoying Sasuke to interrupt them again and pull his cousin away from him. Today, Itachi would be his, and only his. Strike!

"We will have to rush if we want to catch the next bus into the city," Itachi explained as they strode out of the front door. "We will ride to – Shisui, where are you going?"

"You didn't honestly think I would take the bus, did you?" Shisui scoffed. "That would be too boring. Taking my vehicle will be way more fun."

Itachi raised an eyebrow. "I wasn't aware you had a car."

"I don't," Shisui grinned, opening the garage door. "Cars are for amateurs. Everyone can drive a stupid car. No, we are going to use this," he announced, pointing to the shiny black motorcycle in front of them. "May I introduce you to my precious little baby?"

Itachi blinked. Then he shook his head resolutely. "There is no way I am getting on this machine."

"Why? Are you afraid?"

"No, but I believe my parents would be most unimpressed if I broke their rule to not go anywhere near motorbikes," Itachi deadpanned.

Shisui rolled his eyes. "You are such a stick in the mud, you know? Come on – it's not like I'll run around telling everyone you were naughty. And if they find out...well, you can always blame me for blackmailing you into this. Don't worry, they'll believe it. I'm the black sheep in this family anyway, so..."

Itachi looked guilty. "I would never let you take responsibility for my actions, Shisui."

"Whatever," Shisui sighed. "Are you coming now or what? I don't want to sit here waiting until I'm covered in cobwebs, you know."

Itachi was still hesitating.

"I'm not going to manoeuvre us into a roadside ditch, I promise," Shisui reassured him. "I am a decent, responsible and virtuous driver. Trust me."

"Somehow I doubt that," Itachi muttered under his breath, but accepted the helmet Shisui had offered him anyway and climbed onto the motorbike behind him. Shisui grinned at how tense he was.

"Hold on tight, squirt. Now we will rock the road."

Itachi's protest respecting the insulting and inept nickname died in his throat the second Shisui hit the gas pedal, making the wheels spin with an ear-deafening noise before shooting forward at top speed.

So much for following the traffic regulations.

Maybe it was just Shisui's imagination, but he thought that Itachi looked rather pale when climbing off the motorbike once they had reached their destination. Well, paler than usual, that is. And was there a little drop of sweat on his forehead? Yes, Shisui decided upon further examination, it definitely was. He grinned. It was the first time he saw Itachi being somewhat dishevelled thanks to his slalom practice between the cars on the main street, and Shisui was glad that there was at least a little indication that Itachi was indeed human. He secretly made a "mission accomplished" check mark behind that point on his mental to-do list.

"So, how did you like it?" Shisui asked casually.

Itachi just glared at him. "I would have enjoyed it a lot more had you not driven like a maniac," he answered coolly.

"Awww," Shisui cooed. "Forgive me. I did not mean strain your over-sensitive stomach."

"My stomach was not affected by your driving in the slightest," Itachi replied with all the dignity he could muster.

"Of course not," Shisui allowed, noble and generous as he was. He could still make fun of Itachi later...or just keep thinking about it in his head. Silent amusement was sometimes even better than taunting people. Oh, this drive had so been worth it, not only because he could be silently laughing his ass off now, but also because Itachi had been clinging to him with quite some force, and Shisui had to admit that he had never felt so close to flying ever before.

"So," he began, looking around, "where do we start?"

"I would highly suggest the old marketplace and the Saint Elizabeth Church, followed by the historic city centre and the palace grounds."

Shisui shrugged. "Sounds good – but how about some coffee first? I will need it to improve my concentration if I want to absorb all the information you are sure to bury me with."

Itachi's left eye twitched. "As long as the caffeine doesn't impair your driving skills even more, I suppose it couldn't hurt. How do you want your coffee?"

"Black – like my soul."

Itachi merely rolled his eyes and strode towards the next café, leaving Shisui to examine his surroundings. He hadn't been waiting for a long time when he suddenly became aware of a person waving at him almost frantically.

"Oi! Dimwit!" Hana called over the road. "Come here!"

Shisui blinked. What the hell was Hana doing here? She wasn't even supposed to know he was in this town. In a daze, he crossed the street, watching Hana bouncing up and down impatiently until he reached her, only to be even more shocked when she unexpectedly hugged him tightly.

"Ahem...uhm...Hana?" Shisui coughed and cleared his throat.

"Sorry for being so short with you yesterday," Hana apologized, still not letting go. "I wasn't in the best mood. But, you know, airhead, I am so happy for you that you finally found someone you really like, and I want you to know I don't care at all that it's a guy and -"

"Can't...breathe," Shisui managed to choke out.

"Oh." Hana let him go immediately.

"Hana, what are you doing here?" he asked incredulously.

"Cheering you up, obviously. Providing mental support. That stuff, you know, moron?"

"Yeah, but...what are you doing here? How did you even know where to find me?"

"Easy," Hana grinned. "I called up your dad. He told me you had a date with your beloved new-found cousin."


Hana laughed. "Don't worry, he didn't phrase it this way. So," she continued, eyes fixed upon something behind his shoulder, "this is your friend?"

"My downfall," Shisui corrected, turning around to see Itachi standing in front of the café, frowning as he watched him and Hana converse.

"Playing hard to get?" Hana guessed.

Shisui shook his head and sighed. "Forget it, Hana. Itachi doesn't even swing that way."

"Too bad," his best friend commented. "He is quite the looker. Hey, if you don't start dating him, can I have him then?"


The girl grinned. "Just kidding. Anyway, I'll be on my way now – I don't want to spoil your date, after all."

"It's not a date. I told you, Itachi isn't...well, you know. Interested."

"Well, that's easy to find out," Hana shrugged, a malicious smirk on her face, and then, without warning, she got up on her tiptoes and planted a short kiss on his lips. Just like that. Hana laughed at his thunderstruck expression and took a step back. "See ya in a while, git. I expect you to call me at once when there are new developments."

And with that, she disappeared, leaving Shisui to stare after her dumfounded. He only found his way back to reality when he realized Itachi was standing next to him, his face more tense than usual and somewhat...angry?

"Who was that?" Itachi asked, his voice tight, almost accusing.

"Oh that was...well, that was my best friend, Hana Inuzuka." Shisui was still extremely embarrassed by Hana's actions. Just what had gotten into her?

"You could have introduced me, then."

"Oh." Shisui scratched the back of his head nervously. "Well, she was kinda...in a hurry. I'll introduce you the next time."

"Hn," Itachi grunted, making Shisui think that this was what had irritated his cousin. He must have felt kind of left out. Yes, that was the most logical explanation. No, it was the only logical explanation. He would've been angry, too, wouldn't he, had he seen Itachi conversing with someone else without being included in the conversation?

"You two seem to be...exceptionally close," Itachi remarked after a while of them walking in uncomfortable silence.

"Well, yeah, I've known her since forever."

"Is she your...girlfriend?" Itachi seemed to have troubles to even utter that word, and when he did, quite a lot of distaste sounded through his voice.

"What? No, No, of course not!"

Itachi frowned. "Why did she kiss you, then?"

"Well, I- well, she – uhm – "Shisui stopped when his brain had finally worked out what his tone had sounded like, and what this implied. "Itachi – are you jealous?"

"Don't be ridiculous, Shisui," Itachi replied coolly. "Of course I am not jealous. Why would I be?"

"Now that's a good question, because if any of us had a right to be jealous of someone, it would be me. After all, youare the one always spending time with Sasuke instead of with me."

"Don't be ridiculous," Itachi repeated. "Of course I spend a lot of time with Sasuke. He is my brother, whereas you are...you are..." He struggled for a word. "...just Shisui," he ended lamely.

Shisui couldn't blame him. He shouldn't have expected anything else. Had he been asked for a word to describe what Itachi was to him, he wouldn't have known the answer. Blood-relative? Acquaintance? New found (and maybe soon to be best) friend? Crush? Possible love of the life, as cheesy as it sounded?

It still hurt, somehow. JustShisui. It sounded as if he was worth less than Sasuke, and Shisui had to admit that it was only logical that he would mean less to Itachi than his younger brother, especially seeing as Sasuke and Itachi had spent their entire life together, whereas Shisui had only gotten to know Itachi two days ago. Of course he couldn't expect Itachi to fall head over heels in love with him and neglect Sasuke and instead prefer to spend the time with someone who was, to be honest, still a stranger to him. Only Shisui was so dumb as to do something like that.

But still.


'Just Shisui' felt as if he wouldn't enjoy the day as much as he had previously thought.

He sighed inwardly. He should just stop whining about it. Maybe he should stop spending time with Itachi altogether – it would certainly have a positive effect on his sanity. Yet, the mere thought of keeping his distance from Itachi made his heart clench painfully.

God, he was really behaving like a thirteen year old lovesick teenager, wasn't he?

'Stop it!' he chided himself. He was a big guy. He would handle. Of course he would. He'd get over it (and maybe also about his 'unsure about my sexual orientation' phase), as soon as he didn't see Itachi anymore. Namely, in a few days. The wedding would be the following day, and he and his father would leave the day after that. And if his father didn't suddenly decide to repeat this unique determination to join in family gatherings and events – something Shisui highly doubted considering that his father already seemed to be incredibly pissed off by his relatives – he would probably never meet Itachi again. Ever. They had never met before, so why would they run into each other now? Itachi didn't know where he lived, and Shisui didn't know where Itachi lived. Itachi would probably forget about him soon, and Shisui would eventually do so as well. He would wipe Itachi from his mind, and with him those bemusing feelings would vanish. Certainly.

"Shisui?" Itachi's voice interrupted his inner monologue. "Shisui, are you even listening to what I am saying?"

"Wha- oh, sure, sure, go on."

"If I bore you, you can just say so," Itachi snapped.

"Sorry, I was just...lost in thought."

"I can see that," Itachi replied sorely, making Shisui wonder why his cousin was in such a bad mood all of a sudden.

"Itachi, what the hell is wrong with you?" he asked, exasperated. His cousin always confused him anyway, but this was so completely out of character that Shisui didn't make an attempt to understand him, and he was sonot in the mood to deal with a pissed off Itachi right now, especially since he didn't even know what he had done wrong to make Itachi react this way.

"There is nothing wrong with me," Itachi growled. "You are the one continually dreaming of your girlfriend. If you prefer to spend the afternoon with her, you could at least be honest and tell me so, so that I don't waste my time."

Shisui blinked. "Itachi," he said slowly, his heart rejoicing surreptitiously. "You are jealous."

"I see no reason for this kind of illogical sentiment," Itachi stated icily and marched off. His reaction didn't chance that Shisui still felt like jumping and singing and laughing, preferably all at once. Quickly he ran after his cousin, putting his arm around his shoulder the moment he reached him.

Itachi froze.

Okay, maybe that had not been the best thing to do. But now it was done, and Shisui sure as hell wouldn't back away, because that would make him look even more stupid. ""Aw, you know, it's nothing to be ashamed of – I can totally relate," Shisui babbled away. "It's annoying to hang out with friends who are asleep at the switch. I'm sorry. It won't happen again. However," he continued, raising his voice a bit to emphasize his point. "I should inform you that Hana is really not my girlfriend and that it will be your duty to shoot me if I ever so much consider it – although, she might shoot me as well as soon as she found out...I don't know for sure but I think her father owns a gun so..." he mused.

"You are rambling."

"Ah. Yes. Right. So, whatever, like I said, she's not my girlfriend. I don't have a crush on her either – heaven forbid! – nor on any other girl I know. Just so you know. And now," Shisui announced as he playfully punched Itachi in the side, "stop sulking. It's time for some guys-hanging-out time."

Despite the fact that Shisui didn't even think he was making sense – because not even he knew what guys-hanging-out time actually consisted of, because all he had ever done with male friends was playing video games or soccer or gossiping about girls, and talking about girls was clearly out of question with Itachi – Itachi's face softened a bit, before he cleared his throat audibly.

"Shisui...would you mind...your arm..."

Instantly, Shisui blushed madly and he pulled away his arm as soon as possible. "Oh. Right. Sorry. I – uh- uhm..." Just why was it that Itachi always reduced him to stammer incoherently by melting his brain cells?

A small smile ghosted over Itachi's lips, and that was when Shisui thought the day wouldn't end so disastrous after all.

Act four:

Day four was, in a way, both the most boring and the most stressful day. Boring because Shisui didn't get to hang out with Itachi at all. Stressful because his relatives seemed to think that his attendance had to be good for something and had decided to make him run around the entire compound.

The entire day until the ceremony in the afternoon went just like that: "Oh, Shisui, would you mind fetching me this from the dining hall?" – "Shisui, could you search for Uruchi-san and tell her to come here, please?" – "Shisui, bring this to Fugaku-san." ...Shisui do this, Shisui do that. He felt like a slave.

But, well, everything for the family, right?

At least this kept him occupied. Itachi wouldn't have had time for him anyway, because he too was busy arranging and organizing the last things. Shisui hadn't seen him all day. As much as it saddened him, it was probably better this way. He and his father would be leaving early the next day, and he should better get used to not being around Itachi anymore already. He had never cared to inquire in which part of the country Itachi was living, but he was sure it was on the other end of the country. Consequently, he should get used to the idea of not seeing him anymore...ever.

It wasn't as easy as Shisui had hoped.

His cell phone rang. Shisui sighed as he saw Hana's name on the display and briefly considered ignoring her. But...no, better not. He'd have to face her wrath, then, and this was something he'd rather avoid. After all, he was quite attached to certain parts of his body which she always tried to kick when being angry at him.

She didn't even give him the time to greet her. "You didn't call yesterday. Didn't we agree you would keep me updated, moron?" she accused him.

"No. Youagreed that I would keep you updated," Shisui said, exasperated. "I never said this."

"Details," Hana waved it off. "Well. So?"

Shisui sighed. "Nothing happened, Hana."

"Nothing? Oh, you've got to be kidding me. His eyes nearly fell out when he saw me kissing you, and I almost expected him to launch at me and strangle me to death."

He groaned. "This isn't funny, Hana."

"I wasn't joking, dimwit. I mean it. You should've seen his face – it was priceless." He could almost hear Hana grin from one ear to the other. "Trust me, I'm a girl- " Shisui scoffed at this, because Hana was definitely not a normal girl, she was a tomboy – "and I know a gay man when I see one."

"Wouldn't that mean you would've known that about me, too?" Shisui asked dryly.

"I did."

Shisui nearly choked on his spit. "What?"

"Oh, come on, airhead, don't tell me you were surprised when you found out you liked boys. I certainly wasn't. It was so obvious."

"Obvious?" Shisui swallowed. "I wasn't aware I had gay written all over my face."

Hana chuckled. "You don't. But I know you. In all these years, you've barely ever shown interest in girls."

"I've had girlfriends," Shisui protested, offended.

"Yes, but when have you ever been in a real, long-lasting relationship, numskull? Right. Never. So it was easy to figure out you had to like someone, and seeing how you weren't interested in girls it could only be that. Whatever. Back to your cousin. Now he is definitely not straight. He's too beautiful for that. I speak from my own experience – the most beautiful men are either gay or already off the market. And since he is single, he can only be gay," Hana finished her conclusion. "There you have it."

"I am overwhelmed by the brilliancy and depth of your train of thought," Shisui commented, voice oozing with sarcasm, which Hana simply chose to completely ignore.

"Thank you," she said, sounding quite enthusiastic.

"I didn't actually mean that, Hana," Shisui informed her. "I think it's just bitterness speaking because you never managed to get a good looking boyfriend."

"I am not bitter," Hana hissed. "I – oh. Mom's calling me for lunch. However, go and get him. You can't let a piece of candy slip through your fingers, can you? Bye!"

Shisui sighed again as he hit the red button to end the call. This girl was going to be the death of him one day.

"SHISUI!" his father shouted down the corridor. "Time to get dressed, so put your tux on or we'll miss the ceremony!"

When asked, Shisui would later say that it was quite the touching wedding ceremony. At least he guessed it had been, and it would be the appropriate thing to say. Personally, he found it quite a bit too sappy and annoyingly tedious, but he assumed his relatives wouldn't have taken it too well had he told them he'd had problems not falling asleep during the sermon. It probably would've been more interesting, he mused, had the persons marrying actually been someone he cared about. This time, though, since he felt he had no affiliation to the bridal couple at all, it had been a good thing his father had kicked him occasionally to make sure he didn't doze off and draw all the attention to himself by snoring loudly.

Shisui sighed. This entire day had been so pointless. A complete waste of time. He wouldn't have minded so much had he actually been able do something useful during the seemingly endless ceremony...like, ogling Itachi or something. But unfortunately, the object of his desire had been seated in the very front (Shisui guessed it was either because his father was such an important figure in the Uchiha clan or because they more closely related to the couple), while Shisui and his father had been seated in the penultimate row. Consequently, the only thing he'd seen of Itachi so far had been a glimpse of his silky dark hair, and that was only when he'd craned his neck so intensely that he was sure his neck would be completely stiff if he kept this up, so he had stopped pretty soon.

Now, the party was at its peak; Shisui had to admit that this part of the whole wedding things was more to his liking. The music was okay, the buffet was great (especially the chocolate cake – god, he could dig into this) and although not yet being old enough to be allowed to consume alcoholic drinks Shisui had managed to get hold of a glass of wine, because no one actually cared enough to check on him.

But he stillhadn't found Itachi. God, was his cousin playing hide-and-seek with him or what? It annoyed him to no end. Yes, there were a lot of people here, but Shisui was sure you could find each other if you just wanted to. And he was definitely searching for his cousin - which would leave the option that Itachi was avoiding him, but Shisui couldn't come up with a single logical reason as to why Itachi should be doing such a thing.

Then again, Itachi wasn't logical.

God, he was going mental here!

"Enjoying the festivity?" someone suddenly addressed him.

Shisui turned around to find himself face to face with yet another Uchiha - obviously, because there were only Uchihas here, weren't there? Even the goddamn priesthad been an Uchiha. Talk about the clan being paranoid to not let anyone butt into their business. What would happen if anyone wanted to marry a girl from another family?

Examining the man, Shisui wondered whether he had seen him before. He didn't think so, but maybe that was just because he looked just like every other fucking family member – tall, slender, pale, black hair and black eyes. It was no wonder they all looked so alike, Shisui mused, considering how much inbreeding this clan used to do. Yes, that might be a reason. Or he might just have been too busy doting on Itachi to notice him.

There was somethingdifferent about this guy, though. As much as Shisui tried, he couldn't even make a guess on how old this guy was. Judging from his demeanour, he had to be at least twice as old as him, but he didn't look that old. In fact, he looked quite ageless. It was kinda creepy.

Luckily, the man ignored that Shisui was just staring at him dumbly and proceeded to introduce himself. "My name is Madara," he said smoothly, holding out his hand. "You must be Shisui."

He blinked, and only just remembered his manners in time to not make a complete fool out of himself. "Yeah," he said, shaking Madara's hand automatically. "I don't believe we have met before." The name sounded vaguely familiar, though, but Shisui couldn't remember where he had heard it before. He didn't care very much, either.

"I also doubt this; after all, it seems you hardly attend family gatherings. It is a shame," Madara lamented, "that so much time had to pass until we finally met - I have heard a lot about you."

"Only the best, I suppose," Shisui mumbled, irony clear in his voice.

A light smile played around Madara's lips. "Well, they were certainly the most interesting things."

Shisui smiled weakly. "That's what I thought."

"I was actually meant interesting in a positive way."

"Right.", he answered sarcastically.

Madara clicked his tongue. "Bitterness doesn't suit you, my dear. I like you so much better when you are smiling."

Shisui swallowed. What the hell? Was this just the alcohol getting the better of him or was this guy trying to sound seductive? No. No, certainly not. Surely he was just imagining this. Yes. It had to be the alcohol. That, and the fact that he had been paranoid ever since finding out that he might just be gay, because what would happen if anyone were to find out? If Itachi were to find out?

Shisui eyed his wineglass suspiciously. It wasn't even half empty.


"Personally, I have to admit you didn't miss much by not coming here," Madara continued. "It is always the same boring people meeting. I rather dislike those family meetings."

"Why do you come here, then?" Shisui asked somewhat brusquely.

Another dazzling smile. "Because sometimes, you meet the most interesting peoplewho make it worth it, don't you agree?" he whispered, leaning closer to Shisui until his hot breath tickled in his ear, making him shudder.

Shisui almost dropped his plate. He was absolutely mortified, because this guy was definitely hitting on him, and he had no idea how to react. He couldn't really shove him away like he'd loved to do, because that would probably cause quite an uproar, because Shisui wouldn't even have a good reason for his actions because there was no way he could ever prove Madara was doing anything inappropriate. In fact, he hadn't even done anything inappropriate so far. Great.

Still, Shisui preemptively took a step back to increase the distance between them. "I...guess so," he said, forcing himself to be polite. He usually didn't care what people (and especially the Uchiha family) thought of him, but this time was different. Because Itachi's opinion of him didmatter. He didn't want to put off his friend by behaving in a way Itachi would not approve of – like, offending his relatives, for example.

Madara flashed him a smile again. Man, was he using whitener for his teeth? They were sparkling in the bright light of the room. Again, Shisui couldn't suppress a shudder and his only thought was that he should get away from here as soon as possible. Unfortunately, he didn't really know any other persons in this room aside from Fugaku, Mikoto, Itachi, Sasuke and his own father, and none of them were currently in sight to serve as a convenient excuse to take flight, and somehow he was sure Madara was very well aware of that. Shisui frantically searched the room for someone, anyone, no, anything to help him out of this predicament, but there was nothing to be found. Maybe he should just go anyway, make a run for it and disappear for the rest of the evening. Yeah, that would be a good idea. So –

Shisui was stopped short by slender, yet very strong fingers which very suddenly curling around his wrist before he could even make an attempt to take a single step, efficiently forcing him to stay where he was. Maybe Madara could read his thoughts – he was definitely creepy enough for that. Or maybe Shisui's desperation had simply been too clear on his face.

"I have been watching you these last days, you know, Shisui?" Madara whispered into his ear again, and Shisui swore he could feel the fingers of his other hand ghost over his back and along the line of his shirt.

And then, suddenly, Madara's hand snatched back and he took as step back as he straightened himself and quickly strode away, not before mumbling "Later" towards him.

Shisui was too confused to grasp what was going on, and all he could do was staring after Madara as he disappeared in the crowd, mouth wide agape. Now what was thatsupposed to be? Not that he wasn't happy to have Madara gone – god, and he had thought Fugaku was creepy, but this guy beat all his other relatives in terms of creepiness – but this was just really, really strange.

He was still wondering what had made Madara leave so hastily when he saw Itachi standing there, glaring at him. One look at the disgusted grimace on his face was enough to make Shisui realise his cousin had seen everything.

Well, shit. Now that was exactly what he needed right now.

Wordlessly, Itachi grabbed his arm and dragged him towards a dark and deserted corner of the room where no one could watch them. "What do you think you were doing?" he hissed in fury. "Are you out of your mind to approach Madara?"

Oh perfect, so now it was his fault? Shisui was seriously pissed off. "Approach Madara?" he repeated. "Are you out of your fucking mind? Last time I checked I wasn't into seducing creepy old paedophiles to fuck me. Do you think I enjoy being sexually harassed or what? If this is your way of saying 'Watch out, don't go near this guy because he is even more fucked up than the usual Uchiha', then thank you, but I kinda noticed that myself. A little bit of a head warning would have been nice, though," he seethed.

Itachi at least had the decency to look a bit guilty. "Everyone knows it is better to avoid getting too close Madara Uchiha. Forgive me. I assumed you must know this as well."

"Well, how the hell am I supposed to know about that? Do I look as if I could smell danger from a distance?"

Itachi's lips were pressed to a thin line. "I apologized for my behaviour. There is no need for you to insult me further," he said, his voice strangely strained.

Shisui sighed and let his back fall against the cool stone wall. He really shouldn't be taking this out on it Itachi. It wasn't fair. It was just that...he was still so confused. His life was a total mess right now and Itachi was the main reason for that. Shisui had been angry at him for not showing the entire day, and this situation with Madara had just been too much for his already strained nerves. "Sorry," he muttered and ran his fingers through his hair, messing it up even further. "I guess I should thank you for saving me. I don't know what this asshole would have done had he not seen you."

Itachi just nodded to insinuate the apology was accepted and the thanks appreciated. There was a moment of awkward silence before Itachi suddenly spoke up again. "I was worried about you."

Shisui's head perked up at that. Itachi had spoken so quietly he had almost missed it, but Itachi actually looked genuinely concerned, and his voice had been earnest, so Shisui thought he hadn't just imagined it. He honestly didn't know what to say. "Yeah," he finally replied. "I was kinda worried, too."

It was lame, but a tiny smile ghosted over Itachi's lips, and Shisui's heart skipped a beat again. It made him think that it was probably quite unhealthy to stay close to Itachi – at least Shisui couldn't fathom it was good for a seventeen-year-old to have arrhythmia.

He wanted to say something, anything, that would make Itachi smile one of his heart-breaking smiles again, but instead the words he spluttered out were quite petulant and ridiculous, because he didn't even have proof. "Why are you avoiding me?"

Itachi blinked. The smile immediately vanished from his face. "I am not avoiding you," he announced coldly, took a step back and turned around so that Shisui couldn't see his face. There was a tension in his entire demeanour that surprised and bemused Shisui. Itachi wasn't exactly the definition of a laid-back guy, but the only time he'd ever seen him this tense was when trying to convince him to get on his motorbike.

"You are avoiding me right now," Shisui remarked, giving in to the urge to be a smartass just for once. He didn't even know why he was trying so desperately to provoke Itachi into saying something, and in retrospective he guessed it hadn't been his smartest idea. He should have known this would backfire. The more you push the more it slips away; Itachi was the perfect example for this. But he just wasn't able to hold his tongue. He never was.

"I don't know what kind of silly notions loll in your head, but you should make an effort to get them out as soon as possible," Itachi said icily, still not turning around to look at him. "You already started behaving strangely yesterday. I am not avoiding you. I am not jealous. And I have no idea how you'd have any reason to suspect such a thing."

And then he walked off. He just walked off and left Shisui standing alone in the dark corner, forlorn, still clutching his plate because it was good to have something to hold onto when you felt like you were going to have a mental breakdown. He would not cry. He wouldn't. He wouldn't.

He was being so ridiculous. It was obvious that Itachi had found out. That was why he was avoiding him – he was telling him silently that this was not happening. He was probably disgusted. Of course he'd be. A small part of Shisui was still disgusted with himself for having fallen in love with his male cousin. At the moment, though, he was rather angry at himself for having thought just for the tiniest fraction of a second that this might work. He had known this couldn't be. And he hated himself for feeling so utterly empty after Itachi had walked away.

Suddenly, Shisui was desperate to leave this compound as soon as possible. Preferably at first light in the morning so that he wouldn't have to face Itachi again. It would be embarrassing for both of them.

He shouldn't have agreed to come to this fucking wedding in the first place.

Act five:

Shisui turned around to have a look on the alarm clock standing on the little bed table and groaned in exasperation. This was beginning to become ridiculous. Three a.m., and he still hadn't gotten any sleep. His mind kept revolving around Itachi, no matter how hard he tried to stop thinking about him. Every time he closed his eyes he saw his face, but not closing his eyes didn't make anything better either. He wished there was something to distract him, but Shisui knew every attempt would be completely futile.

He turned around again and slammed his eyes shut, nevertheless trying to think of something that would lull him into sleep. Maybe he could try reiterating this terribly boring sermon of today in his head – after all, this had almost made him fall asleep in the church.

Unfortunately, Shisui found after a few minutes, he hadn't listened well enough to even remember a single sentence. Therefore, Itachi was still on his mind.

Shisui stared at the ceiling. Had another look on the alarm clock. Three-thirty.


His frustrated scream was muffled only by his pillow. The hours dragged by slowly. Shisui stared at the clock and watched the seconds tick by. Then he tried to sleep again but only ended up turning to check the time every five minutes, as if to convince his body that it was late and he needed to sleep. Now.

When he could hear the first birds chirping and see the sky growing lighter he had enough of it. Sighing, he got out of bed, grabbed an old T-shirt and a pair of jeans, slipped in his shoes and tiptoed out of the room as quietly as possible in order not to wake his father up. Figuring a little exercise couldn't hurt he began to walk around the compound. It was cool outside, but Shisui didn't mind. He didn't care about anything at the moment. His heart had been broken, he had gotten hit on by a creepy old guy, he hadn't slept all night, he probably looked like shit and his life was completely fucked up. The weather was the last thing he cared about right now.

His steps brought him to the riverbank before he even noticed it, his subconsciousness leading him to the place where he had first seen Itachi. Shisui snorted. He had always known nothing good ever came from water.

A movement in the water caught his eye, and Shisui's breath hitched when he recognised the person gliding through the narrow, cold waters so effortlessly. There went his plan to never meet Itachi again. Why did it actually surprise him that life decided to shit on him yet another time? He briefly considered turning around and taking flight as quickly as possible, hoping that Itachi hadn't seen him, but he didn't have it in him to tear his gaze from the beauty before his eyes. So he leaned against a tree, hiding in the shadows and continued to watch Itachi. He was too far away to be able to make out any details of Itachi's features, but he could imagine the strong muscles stretching and flexing underneath the smooth, pale skin, the strands of black hair sticking on his dampened and slightly flushed cheeks, the water floating around him and caressing the soft curves of his body.

Shisui sighed. When had the realisation that he was pining for his cousin stopped creeping him out?

He hadn't moved at all and he didn't remember making any noise, but something must have given him away, because Itachi suddenly stopped and half-rose out of the water, his back turned towards Shisui.

Well shit. The last thing he wanted was for Itachi to catch him staring. Shisui took a step back, trying to meld into the shadows and make a run for it.

He could hear Itachi sigh. "I know you are there, Shisui."

Shisui froze.

Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit...

Another sigh. "Come here, Shisui." Surprisingly enough, Itachi didn't sound annoyed at all. His voice was as soft and gentle as ever, but it also didn't leave any room for discussions, so Shisui took a deep breath, braced himself for the worst and walked to the edge of the river. Itachi didn't turn around. It made Shisui wonder what his cousin was waiting for. Why didn't he just go ahead telling him to leave him alone or something?

Staring at Itachi's back and waiting for something to happen provoked Shisui to do the most brainsick thing he had ever done in his entire life. He shrugged out of his T-shirt and jeans, carelessly letting them fall to the ground right next to Itachi's neatly folded clothes. Then, ignoring his phobia-ridden brain cells which were screaming at him how idiotic this was, Shisui proceeded to take a step into the river. He drew in a sharp breath when he realised how freezing the water was, yet he didn't back off. He took another step and then another one and another, until he was in waist-deep and standing right behind Itachi, so close that, although they weren't touching, he was sure that every time he exhaled his breath would be tickling Itachi's skin.

Shisui's heart pounded in his chest at a speed he hadn't believed was possible, but he wasn't afraid. Not of the water and not of Itachi. In fact, he was feeling rather reckless - the combination of adrenaline shooting through his body and Itachi's ability to make his head go all mushy did that to him. And so, he stretched out his hand and traced the tiny trails of the water drops running down Itachi's back and then, as if that hadn't been stupid enough, leant forward to press his lips against the soft skin of his shoulder.

Itachi flinched, jerking Shisui back into reality. Immediately he pulled his hand away and stepped back, silently cursing himself. What the hell did he think he was doing? Hadn't he screwed up enough already? He managed to stammer an awkward apology before turning around dashing away, only pausing to grab his clothes and get dressed in record time.

He didn't stop to see Itachi staring after him.

When he entered the room he shared with his father, Shisui was extremely grateful to find that the room was deserted – obviously his father had already gone to have breakfast. At least one good thing happened today. Shisui honestly would have had no idea how to find a logical explanation as to why his jeans and boxers were wet should he have asked. It wouldn't have been very good to have his father see him banging his head against the wall repeatedly, which he felt extremely tempted to do, just to knock every iota of stupidity and insanity out of his head.

Shisui realised, with the little bit of rationality he had still left, that he was completely freaked out – he guesses Itachi was, too – and that he needed to calm down. And he needed to warm up, because his entire body was shivering from the cold water.

Okay. Hot shower first. Then packing stuff. Then convincing his father to leave as soon as possible, which shouldn't be exactly difficult. Then, when being home, trying to wipe Itachi from his mind and never attending an Uchiha family meeting again. The latter was easy, the former not quite as much, but it should be feasible. Shisui willed himself to move, but he felt like being in a walking daze rather than actually realising what he was doing. He didn't know how much time he spent in the shower, and it didn't really make him feel any better either.

The biggest shock, though, hit him when he strode out of the bathroom and entered the bedroom, because Itachiwas there, sitting on his bed, hair still damp and some spots of moisture on his T-Shirt, regarding him intently. Shisui yelped and stumbled backwards, suddenly painfully aware that he was only clad in a towel, which was probably not really making this already awkward situation any better. "What are you doing here?" he spluttered, having to admit that his voice was rising one or two octaves which made it sound more like a high-pitched squeal than a properly uttered question.

"We need to talk," Itachi stated.

"Oh, yeah? About what?" Shisui asked, clutching his towel tighter.

Itachi threw him an almost vicious look that was just oozing with his version of 'You know exactly what I'm talking about' – just exactly the look mothers give their children after they'd gotten up to something. Shisui could feel himself blush feverishly.

"I – look, I said I'm sorry, didn't I?" he exclaimed. "I'm really sorry, Itachi, I didn't mean to – I didn't want to – I don't know what I was thinking. I mean, I wasn't thinking but –"

"Shisui," Itachi interrupted him impatiently. "You are rambling again."

"Oh. Right. Sorry. It's just – what I mean is – I'm sorry. It won't happen again. Ever. I promise."


"Oh come on, Itachi, please," Shisui begged. "Can't we just pretend nothing happened? It's not that important, after all. Can't we just forget it? It's not like we're ever going to see each other again, so..."

"What do you mean we're not going to see each other again?" Itachi actually sounded surprised and even kind of...hurt.

That caught Shisui off guard. "I – uh. Huh?" God, now he was really making a fool of himself – why was he not even able to form coherent sentences anymore?

"I had thought you enjoyed spending time with me just as much as I enjoyed spending time with you."

"I did. You – you did?"

"Of course I did, Shisui," Itachi explained, exasperated. "Why else would I have spent these days with you?"

"Well, I don't know, maybe you are just too kind for this world, because, you know, you kind of seem like one of those self-sacrificing and altruistic people to me who care about everyone and – wait. Wait. I kissedyou. Doesn't that freak you ou-"

Shisui was effectively silenced by something warm and soft pressing against his lips. His eyes widened in shock, and when Itachi pulled away a second later – how had he managed to get across the room that fast anyway? – all he could get out was: "Nghgnh?"

"Will you let me talk now?" Itachi asked, sighing. "You were right yesterday – I did avoid you, for obvious reasons. Or at least I thought they would be obvious, but apparently, to you they weren't. I don't know. I – " Itachi inhaled deeply. It was the first time, Shisui mused, that Itachi didn't seem to know what he should say, and in every other situation he probably would have found it both amusing and reassuring to see that Itachi had human traits, but now he just wished he would spit it out.

"During the last few days," he continued slowly. "I realised that I very much enjoyed being with you. I suppose that it wasn't until the day before yesterday, when I saw Hana kissing you, that I realised just how much I liked you. You were right about me that day, too. I wasjealous. Very much so. And I didn't know how to react to this. I was sure my feelings for you would repulse you, so I tried to hide them. I was surprised and confused myself, and I figured it would be the best if I concealed all this and tried to keep my distance from you a bit so that you wouldn't find out. But when I saw you there with Madara..." Itachi trailed off. "I was sure I had given myself away – that you knew why I was behaving this way. I was angry at myself, but mostly I was afraid of your reaction, which, as I was convinced, could only consist of rejection. I just couldn't picture you returning these feelings. And when you sought me out today, I...well."

Shisui blinked. Again. Maybe he had died and gone to heaven. This couldn't actually be happening. This was probably just an illusion, some kind of bizarre dream...but no, the feeling of Itachi's lips on his was still lingering, and no dream could ever fully portray the beauty and perfection of Itachi's face only inches away from his.

He tried to fully assess the information given to him. Well. If he wasn't completely mental – okay, scratch that, he was completely mental, just like the rest of the family – if he wasn't completely deafthen Itachi had just kind of - sort of told him he was in love with him. Just like Shisui himself, he had been under the impression that the other did not return these feelings, and also had been so confused by them that he didn't know what to do.

And he had kissed him. Itachi had kissed him.

"Shisui?" He hadn't realised he had probably spaced out and was grinning from one ear to the other until Itachi's concerned and kind of nervous voice reached his ear. "Shouldn't you be saying something?"

But Shisui found words were quite unprofitable and impractical at the moment, so he just took Itachi's face between his hands and pulled him forwards until their lips met again, and then he was too incoherent to articulate a single word anyway, and he was sure – and kind of proud of that - that Itachi wasn't much better, either.

When they finally broke for air, Shisui sighed contently and buried his head in the crook of Itachi's neck. He hadn't imagined that kissing Itachi would be so different from kissing his ex-girlfriends, but it was. It was so much better. It was thrilling and comfortable and passionate in a way Shisui wouldn't have imagined, and it just felt right.

"Your father is going to skin me alive when he finds out," he mumbled against his skin.

Itachi shrugged. "For now, he doesn't need to know. It can be out secret. But either way, he'll have to accept it eventually. And I will make sure he doesn't harm you."

Shisui grinned. "It's a good thing I have my motorbike. I can visit you on weekends, then, even if I have to drive for hours."

Itachi raised an eyebrow. "We live in the same city, Shisui," he remarked dryly.

"We do?"

Itachi rolled his eyes. "I see you have made no effort to gather further information about me. Yes, we do."

"Well," Shisui said. "I guess I shouldn't ask myself why we never met before. Maybe I should have bugged my father to attend those stupid family meetings years ago...no. Better not. But, hey, we can make a tour round the country with my motorbike, then."

"Forget it," Itachi interrupted him sharply. "I am not driving with you again. You drive like a maniac and don't respect a single traffic rule. And father will definitely kill you if he finds out you persuaded me to go along with this madness."

"I thought you would protect me from his wrath?" Shisui asked, grinning.

"Of course I will," Itachi replied coolly. "Don't you trust me?"

Shisui sighed. "Itachi. I just went into the fucking river for you. I think my attitude on trust is quite clear. It is your trust in me we still need to improve."

Itachi smiled. "Well," he said, burying his fingers in Shisui's messed-up hair, "We have a lot of time to work on that, don't we?"

A/N.: Reviews?