I wanted to bring the total number of my stories up to an even 70, since the 69 was a bit... ehem. There is some minor slash in here in the form of Itachi/Shisui... you just shouldn't even bother reading anything I write if you have a problem with this.

five times fugaku pretended he didn't hear a thing

no end to our descent



He'd thought himself a man of healthy ego until the day he asked Mikoto's parents for her hand in marriage and her father turned a worrying color purple before leaving the room in silence. Mikoto's mother gave Fugaku an apologetic smile and followed her husband into the hallway, where they engaged in a conversation the grisly details of which the thin shoji door did nothing to spare him from. He closed his fingers around his fiancée's in a pincer's grip, kept his mouth shut and wondered if his mother's suggestion about the omiai would have been so bad after all.


The night they brought Sasuke home from the hospital and he wouldn't – bloody – stop – screaming.

The first four times Fugaku had dutifully got up to appease the hell beast they had somehow managed to spawn; the fifth time he hugged his pillow and closed his eyes really, really tight until Mikoto sighed resignedly and rolled out of bed.

"I think we may have chosen the wrong name for him," he said, flopping onto his back. "The Wailing Pouty One is becoming ever more appealing."

Mikoto, bouncing their sniffling son on one hip, gave him a tired but amused smile. "Uchiha Fugaku, veteran of two wars, intimidated by a crying baby."

"Compared to this, explosions don't bother me." He stared at the ceiling hopelessly. "Where's Itachi?"

Mikoto looked appalled. "Don't tell me you want to foist your parental duties onto your five-year-old."

"Only because it works."

"He's at a sleepover."

"He's -" There was a pause. "- what?"

"I told you about it days ago," Mikoto said disapprovingly. "Shisui-kun came over to pick him up this afternoon. Weren't you the one who let him in?"

Fugaku cast his sleep-starved mind around until it latched on to the dim memory of himself opening the front door to find a messy dark mop somewhere around his navel. It had zipped past him across the threshold before he could properly identify its origin, yelling something about taking a bath in watermelon. He may have selected not to hear that part as well.

Sasuke, calmed, finally seemed to be drowsing against his mother's breast, one tiny fist pressed to her collarbone. From the half open door, Fugaku could see Mikoto shifting him onto her shoulder as she walked away, dropping a kiss to the soft curve of Sasuke's head with a tenderness that made his chest ache. Five minutes later, Round Six had begun. Despite the discomfitingly brutal elbow his wife sent into his ribs, Fugaku manfully stayed immobile until he finally drifted off to sleep where his surreal dream of being eviscerated alive by a tribe of apron-clad oni beckoned in comparative benignancy.


One evening in late winter he was wandering through his house looking for a roll of parchment when he saw through an open door Itachi and his best friend sharing a kotatsu, dark heads bowed over an untouched plate of crackers, slow breaths rising like patient ghosts. Something in the way they were curved into each other's space stilled his step. He thought he might be witnessing their first kiss, even though they weren't touching at all. Itachi's eyes were blank as glass. Shisui leaned in close and brushed his fingers across his forehead, and when his mouth parted to form the fledgling shape of something clumsy and misguided and perfect Fugaku turned his head and hurried away, reminding himself that shoji doors were still as thin and rubbish at muffling illicit exchanges as ever.


When his second-in-command advised him against keeping Itachi in the ANBU. Fugaku lifted his eyes from the letter he was writing. A long black thread of ink relieved itself from the tip of his pen, leaving a glistening loop over the last kanji he'd written. He said, do you have a reason to suspect something's amiss? Well, there have been some irregularities, nothing major but possibly worth noting anyway if you want to be thorough and Captain doeswant to be thorough, doesn't he? It's not a problem, is it? Of course not but perhaps Captain would like to have a look at these surveillance reports, just to be on the safe side, nothing to worry about. Who authorized this? It's nothing official really, just one of the new officers volunteering his service, you know how enthusiastic these young guns are—anyway Captain will understand when he reads the reports, I'll just leave them here shall I and Captain can peruse them on his own time. The door closed. Fugaku picked up the stack of paper and managed to read only the signature at the bottom of the first page before dropping the whole thing into the paper shredder. What kind of parents would put the kanji for 'death' in their child's name, he wondered vaguely. Irregularities, indeed. I am not wrong, he told himself. I have a right to fight for this. I am absolutely right.


And even in disaster there are quiet nights, he thought, startled and faintly astonished.

It was just beginning to get dark out, the air warm with the agitated flutter of insect wings. He was in the garden, killing time until dinner and trying not to think about going in to work tomorrow where a nightmarish amount of follow-up investigation awaited. That tended to be the case with suspected homicides. It had been hours since his subordinates had left. In a curious stroke of synchronization, neither Itachi nor Sasuke had left their rooms. On a less novel note, neither had spoken to him.

Late summer stifled everything into impermeable stillness, mired and humid like suffocation; in that silent stew you could theoretically hear every sound inside the house down to the grouchy creaks of its ancient bones. Mikoto was never one to weep loudly but he knew more or less every tear she had shed within these four walls over the last fifteen years. He knew she was weeping now, in the kitchen over the uncooked tempura, soft hiccups of pain escaping through her bone-white fingers. Her mouth against her palm, tremblingly soft. Pleasant meals, quiet laughs, unspoken understanding—these were the peaceful fluencies that they were leaving behind, maybe forever.

He took a walk. The wind swept his hair into his face, but he shook it away and looked up at the overarching trees lining Main Street. Once he passed through that gate at the end of his path he'd be surrounded; even at this hour there were people swimming in the dense heat, awash and sweating in faded fatigue vests and cheerful civilian-wear talking laughing living, and Fugaku the only man in red and black for miles around, cutting stubbornly through their rabble mass, tired of his tired dreams.


and the one time he couldn't deny it

There were screams in the streets growing louder and closer and when they reached the door the last house on the street it would be the end but for all that all he could hear was his wife's breath her mouth on his forehead and the song of her voice in his ears singing him safely to an ending even if it was the wrong ending. The sound of it worked the tension from the back of his neck erased the murky hollow crease from his skin. Somewhere in between these frantic screams and the last bloody cut-throat gasp he would come to understand at last what those voices from beneath had been whispering had been telling him all along.