A/N: Crack? What crack? This totally in no way resembles crack. I have no idea what you're talking about.

This is something like a romantic comedy, except not. It's more like two men figuring out where they stand with one another, only one of them would rather be lying down with the other. In bed. Oh, and there's slash, in case that wasn't obvious. But don't worry, I'm almost certain I managed to sneak a plot in here.

Somewhere along the line and despite his supposed hyper-awareness that went along with being a ninja, Kisame had missed something. Something rather important.

When he had first met Itachi, neither of them had gotten a good first impression. Kisame looked down at the boy Leader presented (this is your new partner, do try not to break this one), this little waif with his too big eyes and a head covered in dark silk and baby fat. This little child too small for any of the organization's uniforms, and Leader was saying this was his new partner?

Yeah. This would last long. Maybe a whole two minutes until Kisame did the boy a favor and snapped his neck.

All of this showed on his face (because really, Kisame was a lot of things, but subtle was not one of them) and Itachi, being the prodigy he was, caught all of it. Kisame's lips stretched back in a way that only those on the verge of death and feeling extremely, hysterically optimistic would call a smile. Most of them would be too busy crying and begging to notice it though. Kisame didn't mind. More fun that way.

The former Mist-ninja expected Itachi's eyes to narrow, his hands to curl into tiny (laughable) fists, for him to grit his teeth. For him to act like the kid he was. Kisame expected him to do anything but raise an eyebrow in polite disinterest and look like a blue man over 6 feet tall with gills and a sword bigger than himself on his back was nothing of importance. That a man like Kisame was nothing.

Kisame was the one who ground his teeth. He had a whole village telling him he was nothing, but they stopped saying that after what he did. Murdering your own comrades and master tended to have that effect. Kisame didn't mind. Monster was so much better than nothing. "What's a brat like you doing in the Akatsuki? I don't have time to play babysitter." Kisame growled out. Sure, not the most original, but this kid probably hadn't been around long enough to know it. Leader had disappeared, off to more important things than partner "bonding". Right. No need to play nice then.

The placid mask the boy wore didn't twitch. "I'm here because," and here, the kid could have inserted anything. He could have bragged that he had just offed his entire family, his entire clan (Kisame would find this out later, but it wouldn't have changed his initial greeting. Everyone could get lucky sometime). He could have cast his eyes down and blinked back tears, saying how it was the only thing he could do, oh poor little orphan me. Hell, he could have spouted something off like it was his religion or something that all his relatives had to die for. Religious nuts were crazy like that, all calm and "have faith in my lord" and then psychotic the next.

If he was a man who could regret things, he would have regretted thinking that when Hidan joined their group.

But no, Itachi had simply looked him in the eye and told him, "I'm here because I'm capable of killing you." Kisame blinked. Gutsy little bastard. Also a pissed off little brat, not that he showed it. But it was something that Kisame would learn later, that Itachi would hate being underestimated just for his age when it wasn't to his advantage.

Kisame hadn't believed him then, only laughed it off, but in time he had come to accept it. Had to. By then, they'd already grown close enough that it didn't rankle Kisame like he thought it would. How weird was that?

Kisame had met royalty (and been the last thing they met), but he had never met someone who embodied all the aristocratic arrogance they had sought after so desperately and could actually make it work.

Then he met Itachi and realized how lucky he had been up to that point.

The thing was- no, the problem was, Itachi had been small then. Miniscule. Young. So terribly young. As foolish as Uchiha Itachi could ever be said to be, all new-teenaged confidence and unintentional bluster.

What Kisame had missed was that he wasn't anymore.

How the hell are you even supposed to measure age anyways, Kisame brooded as he walked beside Itachi, identical cloaks swinging with their pace. It wasn't whether you had killed someone or not, kids could do that. When you got to be 14? 16? 18? 21? Were you an adult then? When you had your first glass of sake without choking on it?

Nah, that last one didn't count. Itachi had downed his without even a cough when Kisame first took him out for some occasion or other. Kisame liked drinking, he didn't need all that much of an excuse. The swordsman figured it was just an Itachi thing, to be able to swallow alcohol without choking. Then again, the kid's entire family spat fire as a rite of passage. After that, it made sense that a little sake wouldn't do so much as tickle. Not that it meant anything later, when Itachi saw all that sake come up again as he bent over a clump of bushes and gagged. Kisame, in a random moment of charity, pulled Itachi's ponytail away from his mouth.

He knew it had been Itachi's first time; Orochimaru had been pestering him about it whenever they ran into each other and kept lamenting that Itachi hadn't even tasted sake yet. He really didn't want to closely examine Orochimaru's reasons for wanting to get Itachi drunk.

Kisame tried not to become too happy when he remembered that Itachi had agreed to go with him the first time he'd asked. But then, why wouldn't he? Anyone must seem like a better drinking partner than that Orochimaru.

It wasn't until after the mission early yesterday night that it became clear. Annoyingly clear. Irritatingly clear.

It had been a lovely evening, cicadas crooning love songs under an endless expanse of softly glowing stars as families ate dinner together and lovers were too busy to use their mouths to talk. Not that Kisame or Itachi noticed any of this. They were a tad preoccupied with the killing, after all.

Some honey had left her man for a younger guy. They were supposed to kill the new lover and anyone who got in their way, not including the girl. The guy who had hired them, one Renji Arakawa, still held out hope that she would see reason and come back to him. He just thought that killing off her lover would speed up the process.

Kisame couldn't blame her for leaving. Arakawa had been rich, but that was about all he had going for him. But that didn't matter. What did matter was that 1) they were getting paid, and 2) it was easy as hell. And finally, he got to kill something! It had been too long since Itachi had given him the okay.

Even better, Arakawa had let him know that he could be as brutal as he wanted to. Make it messy so she couldn't say it was accident, Arakawa told them. Kisame took that as a challenge.

He leaned back and sighed. What's-his-name, the seducer boy, was barely recognizable. Also dead, which was sort of the point of ripping off certain body parts people were unaccustomed to living without and slicing and dicing here and there. And then slicing and dicing a little more. Aaaaaaand maybe just one more time.

Kisame leaned back and inhaled the scent of carnage. There was nothing like the satisfaction of a job well done. The only way it could have been better is if lover-boy had been capable of putting up a fight.

Later that night and after applying some pressure to collecting their pay (Arakawa hadn't become rich by being generous, that was for sure), they went back to their hotel in the next town over.

Their cloaks had been in their rooms since it was policy not to wear them on their nights off, a rule that had been instated after Hidan and Deidara had been allowed to go drinking together. No one really wanted the Akatsuki to be associated with the aftermath. Kisame still couldn't look at mismatched socks without flinching.

Kisame, naturally, headed straight to the bar attached to their rundown hotel. Itachi, for his own indiscernible reasons, had followed. Therein laid the problem.

Itachi, without his cloak to cover up his body, in a room filled with drunks. Drunks who stopped being picky about gender after imbibing more than their fair share of alcohol, and the kid- fuck, the young man, and that was still weird- would never admit it, but he could pass for a girl easy.

It was like a sitcom right in front of Kisame's eyes. He leaves his partner alone for what, a few minutes at the very most to get their drinks, turns around, and there's some asshole hitting on Itachi. He's sitting in Kisame's seat, and his hand is not on top of Itachi's but it's very close and inching closer with every second.

"So, gorgeous, can I buy you a drink?" And Kisame had thought he had been unoriginal before. Shit, the guy even had the sleazy grin to go along with it. Hair combed back, thin framed glasses, and a goatee. Kisame had never hated someone so much in his life. Except for the Mist royalty. And former comrades. And that Gai lunatic. And Orochimaru. And anyone who called his blue skin weird. And- okay, he was a well-known, powerful ninja. Only made sense that he'd make some enemies along the way.

Itachi blinked a little slower than usual. That was Itachi talk for "I'm confused but there's no way in hell I'm going to show it unless there's torture involved. And probably not even then." Yeah, Kisame wasn't much for subtleties, but you don't live with someone and kill with someone without picking up some of their quirks.

"I'll have to decline. My partner's currently procuring the alcohol." Procuring the alcohol. God, was that something only Itachi would say or what? Kisame had known he was a brat right from the start.

The horndog's grin faded a little ("Your partner?"), but he reached his hand forward and almost lost it when Kisame slammed the sake bottle down on the table. The space between Itachi's eyebrows puckered at the spill, but Kisame didn't care.

He slid his lips back the same way he did when he met Itachi, the same way he did when he thought he was looking at someone inferior. Only this time, it was a sure thing.

"What the fuck, jackass, you almost-"

"You were leaving." This was not a tone you argued with, flat and cold as steel not yet warmed by blood.

The man sneered and looked up. And kept looking up. Kisame loved being tall. The bastard swallowed, got up, and left without another word. That tone never failed. Then again, it might have been the fact that a six foot tall blue man with teeth sharp enough to rend flesh from bone was what got the guy moving more than Kisame's tone. Whatever.

Itachi turned to him then, still seated coolly in their booth as if some pervert hadn't been drooling all over him. "The purpose of that outburst was what, exactly?"

And Kisame looked down at him after glaring at the man's back (should have killed him, but his blood-lust had been satisfied earlier. And he wasn't supposed to kill any more civilians after that one incident with the Persian cat, the lampshade, a lady's heels, and a solemn promise to Itachi not to mention it ever again. Ever.) and saw what the man saw. There was no light bulb going off over his head, no light from Heaven announcing this epiphany, no orchestra in the background. Just something in Kisame's mind going, Oh.

The worst part about it was that he couldn't even blame it on the sake since he hadn't gotten a chance to fucking drink it yet.


"I don't like guys slobbering all over you, alright?"

The eyebrow twitched. "Do you honestly think I couldn't have done something about him if he'd made a move?"

"Did I say that?" Kisame groused, sitting across from Itachi and trying to reconcile this paradigm shift with the rest of his life. While he was at it, he could try and figure out when he had gotten so possessive.

Itachi frowned, but he took his cup and began draining it. His throat worked, and Kisame swallowed. Hard. He picked up his own drink and started in on it, convinced he was going to need alcohol to get through this. The fact that he had warm fuzzies in his stomach because Itachi had drunk the sake without checking it for poison was not helping matters. At all.

And no, the fact that he had actually thought "warm fuzzies" was never going to be mentioned.


Itachi had grown up. Kisame was pissed. How the hell did some random slick drunk notice that before he did? Insulting, that's what it was. Kisame was the one who spent the most time with Itachi, he should have been the first to notice.

On second thought, maybe that's why he hadn't noticed.

Well, it's not like he had to do anything about it now. Maybe take his partner to a brothel or something. And whoever thought that just because Kisame was about a decade older than Itachi and spent time with him meant that he was the Uchiha's oh-so-responsible father figure was dead wrong. Usually literally. Itachi still looked a little irked though, so not right now.

"Mood-swings again, Itachi? We can pick up some tampons for you on the way back to base." Kisame grinned at him, a real grin this time. Sure, pissing off someone capable of killing you wasn't the best move, but it was sure as hell the most fun.

Itachi's eyes narrowed at Kisame and chose to graciously ignore another patron yelling, "I knew she was a girl! Pay up, bitches!"

Kisame's grin widened. Third time this month they'd caught someone making that same bet.

Itachi's eyes were slits. Kisame knew he hated it when people gambled on his gender. Still, there was that whole "no killing civilians unless it pertains to the mission" bullshit they had to stick to. Oh, and Itachi was a pacifist. Somehow. Kisame had always found that odd, considering his line of work, but who was he to whine about oddities?

"Kisame," Itachi said evenly. He was too proper for that to growl or yell or hiss and spit like a cat.

He didn't have to. Those three syllables were devastating.

Itachi was really good at putting meaning into his words. He'd only said his name, but Kisame already felt abashed. How the hell did he do that? No wonder he never had to say much.

The balance restored, Itachi kept silent and sipped his second cup while Kisame started on his eighth bottle. Hey, he really liked drinking, alright? The night passed in relative peace until they went back to their room and Itachi found out that Kisame had borrowed his toothbrush. Seriously, Itachi could get into a sulking fit over anything.

Okay, so maybe he should have asked before using it for Sameheda, but personally Kisame thought it would have been worse to just leave it lying out with dried blood caked on it.

So now they were strolling back to base on a well-trodden trail, taking their sweet time. Kisame wondered if this time they might actually have a conversation. The silence was comfortable, make no mistake, but Kisame couldn't help but be curious if today would be the day that Itachi Spoke Without Being Prompted.

Silence. He could hear rocks shifting in their grassy beds.

Okay, so no Uchiha conversation starters today. He probably would have died of shock, anyhow.

"So, Itachi," Kisame began.

Itachi didn't say anything, but somehow, his body language or whatever, Kisame could tell he was listening.

"How old are you now?"

Itachi gave him an incredulous look without shifting anything on his face that said something along the lines of, "I cannot believe you just asked me that. You idiot. How are you breathing and walking at the same time? The stress must be too great for your brain to handle." Also, "I'm eighteen. Thanks for remembering." The things Itachi could say without saying anything.

No, Kisame didn't get it either. There were things about Itachi that made no sense but worked anyways.

"Eighteen already? Huh." Kisame lapsed back into silence after that.

It took Itachi twenty-one minutes and nineteen seconds to break down and ask after that. Kisame had been counting. Not much else to do.


Kisame chuckled. "Dunno. Just thinking about it recently. You getting older, I mean. You aren't a kid anymore, you know."

"Yes, I've noticed that myself." Damn, could his tone be any more dry? Like the freaking desert. "And I was never a child. You need an actual childhood for that."

Kisame rolled his shoulders in a half-shrug, half the closest thing to an apology for bringing up the past that Itachi was ever going to get from him. "Guess you're right," he agreed noncommittally.

Kisame wasn't sure why, but it seemed as though Itachi was watching him closer than usual on the walk back. Every time Kisame glanced at him though, he was focused on something in the distance, or off to the side that Kisame was not on.

Kisame mentally shrugged and thought nothing of it.

He should have.

Itachi was frowning sternly. No, his lips hadn't moved a tenth of a centimeter, but Kisame could tell these things. It helped that frowning would be the normal response to a hyperactive Deidara trying to hang off you and alternately chatting your ear off about how much he hated you, explosive art, and why the hell don't we hang out more, Itachi? Un!

Itachi's left eye twitched. Deidara missed the warning sign entirely. This was evidenced by the fact that his entire life was not currently flashing before his eyes. He was also still talking. Kisame, foreseeing bloodshed not caused by him (and therefore less fun), opened his mouth to cut off this no doubt humiliating death waiting to happen when Sasori beat him to it.

"Moron, shut up. No one cares about your stupid explosions."

"It's art, un! You'd know that if you weren't so obsessed with your dolls!" Deidara's attention had been successfully diverted. Kisame, munching on dinner while sitting on one of the kitchen stools, didn't miss the flash of gratitude that passed over Itachi's face, softening his features and making his lips tilt up at the ends and his eyes several degrees warmer.

Neither did Sasori, even as he bickered with his partner.

It was then that Kisame belatedly realized that someone else had noticed the Uchiha becoming a man. He couldn't say why, but this was a problem. The only reason he could pinpoint for why it was a problem was familiar in a distant way, like seeing kids with smiles and parents to keep those smiles engraved in their hearts, kids with things a child-Kisame could only dream of- but uglier. This feeling was much uglier.

To his horror, he realized it was jealousy, because

the flash of gratitude that passed over Itachi's face, softening his features and making his lips tilt up

For no apparent reason, he suddenly remembered that he only stopped needing an excuse to drink after Itachi became his partner.

Akatsuki members were not expected to share rooms when they stayed in base. They each had their own, provided with a bathroom, a desk, a chair, a bed, a bedside table, and a closet. And candles, because certain Akatsuki members believed electricity was too expensive. That was it. Their rooms were near their partners unless someone made a huge fuss about it. (Hidan, Deidara, Tobi… Come to think of it, Kisame, Itachi, and Zetsu might be the only ones who hadn't complained.)

Usually, that was a good thing. Kisame had trust issues, which honestly explained why he was alive, and so he enjoyed a nice bit of privacy just as much as any other S-ranked paranoid missing-nin. That is to say, a lot. But now he was worried about his partner. This was also uncommon, but it didn't stop it from happening. You had to be able to admit something was going on before you could do anything about it.

He wondered where Itachi was. He hadn't seen him after he left the kitchen, and he wasn't in his room, or he wasn't answering the door. Frankly, Kisame refused to go in his room unless he had permission. Deidara had tried once and… no one knew what had happened, but Deidara couldn't look at clay for a month. Deidara. The artist. Couldn't look at clay. Kisame was happier staying ignorant.

But back to Itachi. Was he with Sasori? Nah, he knew better. The guy went on and on about immortality through art, and that wasn't Itachi's thing.

Kisame didn't think so, anyways.

When Kakuzu stopped by with Hidan of all people to ask if he wanted to get a drink, Kisame didn't even have to think about it. He didn't need a reason under the best of circumstances, and this certainly wasn't that. Getting drunk sounded like a great idea right now.

Kisame stumbled into his room around 2:37 in the morning, reeking of alcohol and cheap perfume, lavender cigarette smoke and heartfelt incoherency with complete strangers.

It was glorious. Why didn't he do this more often?

Kisame lit a candle (Kakuzu the cheapskate, Kisame thought with much less vitriol than usual- the guy had paid for drinks for once, which meant the world was going to end soon but it was so worth it) with nearly unsteady fingers and almost jumped out of his skin when he saw Itachi sitting at his desk, glaring at him.

Oh yeah. That was why.

Itachi didn't ask where he had been. It was obvious, and Itachi did not condescend to state the obvious. That was beneath him.

Instead, he inhaled through his nose, still glaring, and said lowly, "That was foolish, Kisame."

Kisame raised an eyebrow, at once more sober than the amount of alcohol he had downed warranted. Uchiha Itachi actually starting a conversation would do that to anyone. Maybe the world really was ending. Or maybe Kisame should check his partner to make sure it really was his partner. The possibility of someone spending months studying their defenses, breaking into headquarters, undoing all the traps he had on his room, impersonating Itachi, and trying to assassinate him was sadly more likely than Itachi starting a conversation with him. "Yeah?" he replied intelligently, readying his stance to throw a kunai.

On top of that, why the hell did Itachi look angry? Erm, not that he looked angry. He never looked like much of anything. But he was. Angry, that is.

God, he was never drinking with Hidan again. Forget about the rest of him, that guy's liver was immortal and kicking. It'd have to be, to survive what Hidan put it through.

"Yes," the intruder that looked like Itachi agreed. "Anything could have happened to you while you're that drunk." Itachi's lips twitched for the barest second into an actual frown before snapping back into his usual well-mannered indifference.

Uchiha Itachi showing concern? Kisame bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. Someone really hadn't done their homework. It was a pity, since they had managed to make it past all of Akatsuki's security only to fail in this, but that was life. Or the end of it.

Kisame nodded at this thought despite him not sharing it with anyone else, and then his body became a blur of determined destruction. A kunai slipped into his hand, and as his hand came up, he saw the pinwheel eyes of his partner form.

And then he saw red and black, red and black, the end and beginning of Uchiha Itachi's insanity and mastery and knew he had made what was probably a fatal mistake.

Kisame was pinned to a bed. He was spread like a starfish, each limb attached to the corresponding bed corner by what looked like a flimsy rope but what was probably more durable than chakra infused steel. Things were like that when Itachi took control of reality. The bed was perched on a hill outside underneath an angrily red sky. This position wasn't uncomfortable since the ropes weren't pulling all that tight, but it was peculiar. Kisame might have voiced this opinion if he hadn't been distracted by something odder, namely, Itachi straddling him.

Speaking of Itachi, he looked capable of murder. Not just the usual fare of high-class celebrities and other ninjas, but babies and puppies and little guppies. What? Just because he looked like a shark didn't mean he couldn't think baby fish were cute.

Still, he didn't look quite as psycho as his little brother. That was always a plus.

Itachi glared down at him. Yes, actually glared. His hands were folded demurely in front of him on Kisame's chest, and he looked like he could wait for an eternity. For a split second, Kisame saw something like a god in Itachi's expression, the higher knowledge of centuries passing in the space of a shallow sigh and a cold, sturdy rage. Kisame did the only thing he could in this situation.

He grinned up at Itachi. "Guess you're not someone pretending to be the Uchiha brat then."

Itachi's face didn't change, but the sky above them grew heavier under the weight of crimson and Kisame's bones sung with pressure like the air sparked before a storm. Kisame didn't know if he'd survive the night, and something very close to fire skipped along his veins. His grin widened. Itachi didn't blink slowly, didn't question Kisame's excuse for the attack. Stating the obvious was below someone like Itachi, like Kisame was at this very minute and for however many minutes Itachi decided to keep him there.

"I have no reason to impersonate myself, Kisame."

"Could have fooled me. What was with that whole 'I'm concerned about you shtick'? That's not like you at all, Itachi."

Itachi blinked once, a concession.

Itachi didn't need to state the obvious because it all made sense to him instantly, but Kisame was not the same. "What's going on, Itachi?"

Itachi looked down at him, still demurely perched above Kisame, and did something so unlike himself that all the fires underneath the swordsman's skin went out at once without a murmur and Kisame tasted the bitter iron taste of fear for the first time since he was four and watching his first death. Was Itachi sick? Was he in the grasp of a master genjutsu ninja who was ill?

This was probably where Itachi turned on him like he had mistakenly turned his blade on Itachi. People had died for less.

Itachi sighed. Actually sighed. Kisame stayed very still.

Then Itachi did something else surprising, and undid the Tsukuyomi. They were in the positions they were in before Itachi had dragged Kisame into an illusion to stop him from attempting to kill him, simultaneously proving why it wasn't necessary to kill him. Kisame's arm was raised with the kunai glinting in the candlelight, at the level of Itachi's throat. Itachi's hand was wrapped around his wrist, applying a gentle but firm pressure.

They were very close to one another. Kisame could smell him. He repeated his question. Tried to, at any rate. He got as far as "What's" before Itachi cut him off.

Itachi's lips were sealed to his own, molding to his, and his mind did something like slipping and said, Oh. His mouth, when he pulled back, said something more along the lines of Holy shit. He'd always known there was a disconnect somewhere between the two.

Well. This explained pretty much everything.

"Itachi," he murmured. There were so many reasons against this. This would put a strain on their working relationship. Itachi was more than a decade younger than him. They were too different, they'd kill each other before a week went by. Itachi would get tired of him. Kisame would get fed up with him- there were things you could tolerate in a comrade that were a kiss of death in a lover. They were both men. Itachi was too pretty, some other person that was more attractive than Kisame would catch his attention-

Screw that.

Kisame put a hand on the back of Itachi's head and hauled him back for another kiss, slick tongues and heat and the scrape and little cuts of teeth. Kisame had never wanted anything more in his life.

He moved his mouth, kissing up Itachi's flushed cheeks to his sculpted cheekbones to his red red eyes, kissing them closed. Itachi made a low keening noise in his throat and Kisame couldn't remember getting this hard from only kissing before this. Itachi's eyes were closed, hiding those inherited weapons, and his hair was mussed up from where Kisame had run his hands though it to get rid of that hair tie; he looked like a mix between young and mature and so very, very wanton. It figured that an Uchiha could look perfect even when he wasn't.

Itachi's eyes slit open to reveal slivers of reddened harvest moons and he breathed out, "Kisame."

The blue-skinned man swallowed, and then there was fumbling for clothing (thank fuck he wasn't wearing his cloak, they had enough on their hands with Itachi's), stumbling towards the bed, tongues chasing drops of sweat, locked embraces, more kisses that were too violent to be called kisses.

He didn't insult Itachi by asking him if he was sure.

Kisame rolled Itachi underneath him, rearranging positions to line them up and so hip bones and elbows didn't poke anywhere vulnerable. He grinned down, some of his teeth on display. Itachi wriggled beneath him deliciously (prodigy at freaking everything) and they both couldn't contain their moans. Kisame pulled back to get a good look. Itachi was panting already, like he had never done this before, which he couldn't have, which meant Kisame was his first oh holy god, and then that was it for Kisame. No more waiting for things he hadn't realized he wanted but did so desperately.

Itachi was naked below him aside from one stubborn pant leg, pale skin golden in the flickering candlelight except for the small copper coins of his tightened nipples and the impatient flush of his arousal, his eyes like sunsets, his mouth bruised from kissing and in the shape of Kisame's name, and Kisame wanted it all, wanted all of it and couldn't believe he hadn't known. But it was his now, and he wasn't about to let it slip through his fingers. Metaphorically speaking, that is.

Kisame reached down for where they both ached, stroking and cleverly twisting his hand until Itachi tossed his head back, arching, gasping and turning his head side to side as if it was too much, too much to bear and live. This pale-skinned killer beneath him had undergone torture without a whimper, and now he groaned from the very depths of his being, clutching the bed sheets and the back of Kisame's neck where his hair was cut short.

Kisame was so busy watching Itachi writhe and be overcome that his climax took him completely by surprise. When Itachi gave one final gasp, too out of breath for anything more, Kisame felt his stomach tighten and his hips snapped against Itachi's, grinding grinding rutting as his face went into a rictus of pleasure like Itachi's below him.

Kisame's vision blurred until he saw white and thought he was drowning; he fixed his teeth in Itachi's shoulder like an anchor, leaving a ring of imprints instead of a different kind of ring. Itachi would get it. He was good at getting the obvious like that. Once Kisame had tasted, he did not let go.

When Kisame felt he could move again, he looked down and rolled off of Itachi with a grunted apology. Itachi didn't reply. He had a dreamy expression on his face, not quite a smile, but something bordering on sated and relieved. Satisfaction light and airy settled in Kisame's chest. He reached for his cloak, hanging off a bedpost, and wiped them down with it. He'd wash it later, but he really didn't want to spend the morning trying to unstick himself.

The bed was narrow, meant for only one person, but neither of them left it until the next morning. By unspoken agreement, they both avoided cuddling. Sex was fine, but cuddling? No. Just no.

Kisame woke to darkness. His body told him that he'd slept enough. There were no windows, not here in the bowels of the earth. No electricity either, thanks to Kakuzu.

There was no after-morning magic with breakfast in bed on silver platters. Just him and Itachi under the covers. He had curled around Itachi sometime in the night, spooning him from behind. His hand was splayed on Itachi's stomach, still smooth as the ocean-licked stones he had gathered as a child.

…Now what? Good morning? That didn't seem appropriate, and really kind of lame. Kisame sucked at these morning after things. Usually the girl would have taken her money by now and limped out the door, or he'd leave after he was done.

Oh god. They were going to have to… talk. About feelings. Their feelings. Why couldn't Itachi have confessed after one of them had suffered some nearly life-threatening crisis like all the other ninja couples? Then they could have focused on their maybe impending death instead of the mushy stuff. Figures Itachi would have to be special.

It was just that Kisame knew how to deal with dying comrades… lovers?... but this was out of his comfort zone. Far, far from his comfort zone. This situation they were in was so far from his comfort zone it'd have to squint to see his comfort zone, and that was after it set up a telescope.

Itachi's hand covered his, squeezing it once and effectively cutting off his thoughts. "Stop panicking," he ordered, albeit more sleepily than usual.

"Okay," replied Kisame after deciding it was too late to pretend to still be asleep.

Itachi put his family's specialty to good use and lit the candle without getting out of bed. "If you think you can't function as a ninja while in a relationship with me, we should put an end to it here." Itachi: practical to the point of masochism. End this before it even began? Kisame had trouble breathing because someone had just stabbed his heart with an ice pick. A cold ice pick. One of those ice picks that was so cold it burned because some idiot left it in the ice all winter night long. In other words, ow, let's not do that again.

"That might be a good idea…" he started off slowly. Except he hated that plan. He might have gotten on the boat late and the boat might freak him out, but that didn't mean he wasn't on board. No, they were sticking together, and that was that. And Itachi was still lying with his back to Kisame's chest, not looking at him. "Aside from the part where you underestimate me and my abilities as a ninja. I knew you were arrogant, Itachi, but I hadn't realized it'd gotten this bad."

Itachi turned around in his arms and looked at him the first time that morning. Then, tremulously, a small smile unsteady as a newborn fawn spread across his face. And Kisame, sappy as it was, couldn't resist smiling back.

They didn't make sense together, but then, Itachi was good at taking things that didn't fit and making them work. Hide the stars and smash the compasses, Kisame didn't need any tools of navigation to know where he belonged.

He leaned closer to give Itachi a gentle and loving kiss before remembering that he didn't know how to be either. From the way Itachi's eyes lit up and from the flush covering his face, Kisame judged he didn't mind at all.

The Epilogue That Never Was, Or How Akatsuki Finally Got Electricity

"So," Leader began, "I trust your relationship won't interfere with your duties as Akatsuki ninjas?"

Kisame instantly began choking on his pizza. Itachi glanced over and looked like he was considering pounding Kisame on the back before deciding it was too undignified. Tobi could handle it.

Kisame coughed. "Oy, Tobi, that's enough! I'm fine, you can stop now." Itachi was such a bitch sometimes. God, Kisame lov- like- screw it, he wasn't a coward and he never would be. Kisamed loved Itachi. He just wasn't going to say it anytime soon.

No, that didn't make him a coward. He just didn't want Itachi to be any more insufferable than he already was. That was his reason and he was sticking to it.

"Are you sure, Kisame? I can hit you some more if it'll help! Tobi's good at that! Zetsu likes it too when Tobi smacks him, cuz then he makes funny moaning noises. Tobi's a good boy!" Tobi chirped.

Kisame coughed weakly and desperately tried to erase what he had just learned about Zetsu from his brain. It didn't work. "Yeah, that's, uh, something."

After this heart-warming display of group bonding, Kisame turned back to the matter at hand.

"Of course, Leader. Though I am curious as to how you discovered us. I must admit, we did our utmost to be discreet." Itachi questioned, completely ignoring Tobi. He sounded cool and composed, which was utterly undermined by the telltale flush crawling up his cheeks.

Leader's face was in shadow even in the new (electric!) lights, but everyone in the room got the feeling he was raising an eyebrow at them. It was a mocking eyebrow. "You mean aside from the fact that you blush whenever he looks at you, Kisame can't speak to you without stammering, and everyone in this place can hear you screaming his name through 10 feet of solid rock?" (Kisame's smile was stretched so wide it hurt when Leader said that last one).

Itachi, to his credit, soldiered on despite the fact that he was now redder than a tomato. "…Yes."

"The KisaxIta Fangirls."

Itachi's eye twitched as years upon years of trauma came back to him all at once at the accursed word. Fangirls. The squealing horror of it all. He manfully restrained a shudder.

"The what?" Kisame asked.

"KisaxIta Fangirls," Leader repeated. "They're camping outside the base as we speak. I'd ask them how they found us, but to be perfectly honest," Kakuzu had paid for something, Itachi had started a conversation, they didn't have to use candles anymore, and now Leader was being honest? They were all doomed. Doomed. "-they scare me too much." Then he disappeared.

Itachi blinked slowly.

"My feelings exactly," Kisame agreed.

Outside, Kakuzu was making a killing. Not, for once, literally.

"Blushing Uchiha! Get your pictures here!" A horde of screaming teenage boys and some girls descended upon him, cash held in their sweating hormonal fists. Kakuzu grinned under his face mask. Life was good. His checkbook was good. With this, maybe he could actually get that giant sized Jacuzzi he'd wanted. And if he could get pictures of Itachi and Kisame in the Jacuzzi, the thing would pay for itself!

Yes, life was grand.

You don't need to be a psychic to know what I want you to do now that you've finished reading. And just out of curiosity, is there anyone who's written Kisame without the use of ocean metaphors/imagery? I just don't really see it happening. xP