I apologize if this chapter drags on a little : Thanks for being so patient with me.

I think my Ita/Shi will get a little more attention from now on :P

Oh, and for anyone who is not caught up with the latest Naruto chapters [up to 601] must be cautioned for SPOILERS at the end concerning Madara :

The festival grounds were full of flowers and hanging paper lanterns to light up the twilight, bustling with happy people, full of the smells of cooking.

Itachi turned more than a few heads in his brand new (and expensive) Kimono. Orochimaru kept a protective hand on Itachi's shoulder to warn any perverts to look, not touch.

Sasuke wiggled his hand out of Itachi's and ran off ahead, laughing his little head off.

"Hey, wait, Sasuke!"

And there went Itachi, chasing after him. But he only made it a few steps in his confining clothing before tripping over his own two feet. Orochimaru grabbed him by the collar and caught him before he could hit the ground.

"Careful now," he chided.

Itachi blushed pink.

"I'm sorry. I nearly spoiled your gift."

Orochimaru gave him a pat on the head and chuckled.

"Think nothing of it, Itachi-kun."

Itachi gave the faintest hint of a smile. Then Sasuke ran back to him, grinning hard enough to split his face in half.

"Nii-san! Nii-san, there are so many games here! Can I play them?"

"Of course. Here-" Itachi tugged his wallet out and handed Sasuke a good amount of money. "Don't waste it all in one place, alright?"

"Alright, Nii-san."

He looked over his shoulder and found Kisame lagging a few meters behind, trying to make himself unnoticeable and failing spectacularly.

"Kisame, could you watch Sasuke for me?" Itachi asked. "I want to spend some time looking around too."

Kisame nodded.

"Yeah, sure. Whatever."

"Thank you. I appreciate it."

Kisame blushed a light purple. If Itachi noticed, he didn't make any comment.

"Okay then. Stay with Kisame, alright, Sasuke?"

"Kay, Nii-san. I love you!"

Sasuke ran to Kisame and latched onto his arm. He waved at Itachi as they left, and Itachi waved back, issuing a few last warnings to be careful.

"What would you like to do, Itachi-kun?" Orochimaru asked. Itachi took a moment to think about it.

"Huh. . ." He looked around at all the games and the food. "I'm kind of hungry."

"What would you like?"

Itachi looked around at the stands. There were so many, but his mind was set on one.

"Onigiri. I want onigiri."

Orochimaru bought a couple of the seaweed wrapped rice balls and handed one to Itachi.

The lady running the stand grinned at Itachi. Itachi made a pitiful attempt to smile back.

"You certainly have a very pretty young lady with you tonight," she said to Orochimaru, to which Orochimaru smiled and nodded.

Itachi blushed bright red. What could he say? He didn't want to correct her- that would be unbearably awkward. But on the other hand, he sure as hell wasn't a girl, even if he was dressed like one.

Before he could make up his mind, Orochimaru had paid for their food and ushered him away.

Itachi shrugged off the awkwardness and took a bite of his onigiri. He hadn't had one in months. He closed his eyes and let out a soft moan.

"Do you like it?" Orochimaru asked, voice lilting in amusement. Itachi nodded.

"It's my favorite," he said.

Orochimaru felt oddly warm inside. He didn't very often derive pleasure from another's happiness. Pain, certainly. But happiness, not so much.

"My father used to take me to the festival in Konoha every year," Itachi said, watching a dragonfly flit past him. "But when I became Chuunin, he said I was too old for these kinds of things, and we stopped going."

Orochimaru furrowed his brow. He remembered (a little too clearly) when Sarutobi told him much the same thing.

"There comes a time when you have to grow up and give up your childish things."

Orochimaru hardly considered it a coincidence that Hokage had given him that little talk right before. . .that one mission. But whether or not Sarutobi did that on purpose, everything was different after that. There was no more playing on the playground after missions, no more eating dango with Jiraiya until they both felt sick. No more ice cream alongside the Naka river. No more sleeping until noon. No more happy, childish things.

He still missed those childish things, sometimes. He took a bite of his own onigiri and frowned.

"Is something wrong, Orochimaru-san?" Itachi asked.

"No. . .nothing at all." (Lying through his teeth.)

Itachi seemed content to merely wander, not playing any of the games or buying something that caught his eye. He preferred to stay on the sidelines (much like he did in everyday life).

Itachi licked a few stray grains of rice off his fingers, lost in his own thoughts.

"Shisui-nii-san and I tried to make a paper lantern once," he said absentmindedly. "It caught on fire when I tried to light the candle. Nearly burned the house down."

Orochimaru laughed so hard he choked on his onigiri.

Itachi thumped him on the back until he stopped coughing.

"Are you alright, Orochimaru-san?"

"Y-yeah. I'm fine. Go on with your story."

Itachi smiled sheepishly, scratching the back of his head.

"My mother nearly murdered us afterward. It was the only time I've ever seen her get as angry as father."

Orochimaru chuckled.

"Did you kill Shisui like you killed the rest of them?" He asked. He regretted asking when Itachi's face fell.

"Yes, I did." He said soberly. He stared at the last half of his onigiri, but the food seemed a lot less tempting now.

Orochimaru took his free hand and held it tight. Itachi turned pink.

"Do you miss him?" Orochimaru asked.


Itachi sighed.

"Do you ever wish you could go back to when you were happier?" He asked.


"I do. All the time."

A small group of men wolf whistles at Itachi.

"Hey, beautiful, you want a drink? You can ditch old pasty face and have some real fun, whaddaya say?"

Itachi's face turned redder than his kimono. Orochimaru suppressed his urge to commit a triple homicide.

Pain said no killing off duty.

Orochimaru grabs Itachi's hand and starts to lead him away from all the people.

"You can't regret who you are or the choices you've made, Itachi-kun," He said, eager to get his mind off those men. "If you do that, then you remain stagnant, unable to look for the future. A boy as bright as you can't afford that."

Itachi made a noise of acknowledgement.

Orochimaru led him far away from the crowd and the noise, to a copse of maple trees. Now there was nothing but leaves and stars, and it was peaceful. He and Itachi knelt in the grass together. Orochimaru knew what he wanted to do; Itachi was a bit more ignorant.

The breeze ruffled their hair and tickled their noses. Itachi giggled just a little.

Orochimaru kissed Itachi's forehead.

"You're beautiful."

"Why do you keep saying that?" Itachi asked.

"Because you are. You don't seem to hear it enough."

He kissed Itachi's cheek, and then his neck. The skin there is still soft, and smooth, unlike his scarred and calloused hands. A boy's face. A beautiful face.

Orochimaru reached into the fold of Itachi's kimono, caressing the bare skin of his chest. He leaned in for a kiss, but Itachi decided it was enough and pushed him away.

"So shy, Itachi-kun."

"It's shameful."

"You certainly didn't think that three days ago."

"But we're in public. Someone could see..."

"They won't see. Stop being so nervous, Itachi-kun. Relax a little."

Orochimaru kissed the inside of Itachi's wrist.

"I want to touch you."

"You are touching me."

"I want to touch all of you."

Itachi's mind became foggy; it was way too hard to think.

It was so easy to give in with Orochimaru. It was too easy. Too easy to fall for his words. Too easy to fall for him. Just like it was easy to spill his guts and tell him some of his deepest secrets. And he certainly had done a lot of that just now.

But what frightened Itachi the most was the fear that he might, one day, slip and tell Orochimaru his greatest secret of all.

Why he killed his clan.

He could never tell that secret. He couldn't. He, Madara, and Sasuke were the only three, save for those four old bastards from the Hidden Leaf, that could ever know. He had to cut it off with this man, to keep the secret safe.

He had to. But oh, his hands felt so good. Letting go one more time couldn't hurt. . .

Just One more time. And then never again.

Itachi moaned quietly, letting Orochimaru's hands slip beneath his kimono again, cold against his warm skin.

An ugly smile spread across Orochimaru's face as his hands roamed Itachi's lithe body. Yes, the boy was infinitely better than Sasori. It was easy to tire of a partner who could not feel any enjoyment in return. And Itachi made the most tantalizing noises where Sasori had always been completely silent.

He bit his lip to stifle a cry. His young body was sensitive to the tiniest caresses. He was simply adorable.

Big clumps of grass tear in Itachi's hands as he clamors for something to hold him steady, as if he would leave reality if he didn't.

Itachi threw his head back and made an indescribable noise of delight. It felt so good. It made him feel alive. Free.

It's like flying, he thought.

His moans rose above the quiet rustling of fabric. He clutched at Orochimaru's shirt, hands shaking violently. Every nerve was a live wire, alive with anxiety and anticipation.

"Relax, Itachi-kun."

Itachi whimpered.

"Breathe. You're alright."

Orochimaru's voice feels a thousand years away. The world is only his hands, his lips, his tongue- only the terrifying, liberating sensations that swelled his heart.

Itachi had never known freedom in his whole life, and he wasn't quite sure how to feel about it.


He thrashed beneath Orochimaru's grip, crying out with each little movement inside him. The pressure built up inside him until it burst in a white hot flash of bliss. He let out incoherent streams of babbling, then went still on the grass. Orochimaru groaned and swore, then lay beside him. They stayed like this until their heavy breathing calmed down, the cool air chilling their damp skin.

Itachi passed time by tracing the constellations in the sky, remembering the stories Shisui told him. He fingerd his silver necklace and wishes.

Wished Shisui were there, wished he could tell him what he should do. He wished he had Shisui to talk to, who would listen, who had never judged him, who understood him.

No matter what they were- clansmen, friends, or lovers- Shisui had known him intimately. Shisui would know what to do about Orochimaru. He would know what to do about Madara.

But Shisui wasn't here. Not anymore.

"I love you, Itachi. I'll always love you. Even if I die, I'll keep loving you in the next world."

(A lot of pretty words that couldn't ease his loneliness.)

He didn't really want Orochimaru's arms around him. But if he closed his eyes and imagined with all his might, he could pretend that it was Shisui instead.


"Nii-san, look! I got a goldfish!"

Sasuke held the bag in the air and ran on his short little legs.

"Oh? How did you get that?"

"Kisame-oji won it for me! He got it right out of the water first time he tried. tried it five times, but my net kept ripping."

"I told you, those games are rigged," Kisame said, even if he sounded puffed up with pride.

"You still won. Nii-san, did you play any games?"

Itachi cast Orochimaru an embarrassed glance.

". . .I suppose you could say something like that."

Kisame caught on to what he was saying, and turned a furious purple.

"Thank you for looking after him, Kisame."

Kisame rubbed the back of his head and grinned stupidly.

"Aw, it was nothing. He's a good kid."

Sasuke got tired on the way home, and demanded that Itachi carry him. He fell asleep the moment he was settled in Itachi's arms.


Itachi pressed his hand tight over his mouth to stifle his agonized sobs.

He'd known this was coming. He knew Madara would punish him for daring to defy him, even a little bit.

"What's wrong?" Madara hissed in his ear. "You don't mind spreading your legs for him, now do you?"

It seemed to last longer than usual, but that might have just been because it hurt more than usual.

He turned his back to Madara and curled in on himself, not making a single whimper. He trembled as if he were crying, but of course, Itachi didn't cry anymore.


Obito waited for Itachi to fall asleep, tapping an impatient finger against his leg. It didn't take too long, though it didn't feel like it.

His anger was not gone- rather, it simmered just below the surface, waiting eagerly to come back to a boil. He would definitely give Itachi hell in training tomorrow- a punishment perhaps too merciful for the thorn in his side.

Obito's only shield was the boy's naivete. He was quick to believe he was Madara, quick to trust him. It already cost him dearly, and would cost him even more in the future.

Itachi was still just a pawn, to be used and cast aside as Obito wished. Just a pawn, bound in his narrow reality.

Thanks for reading :3 Please review!