It was several seconds after the shot rang that Itachi felt time do a double take and come to a jarring halt.

Shisui had fallen to his knees.

Itachi could count the number of seconds that passed in that moment. But if he stood there counting, he would have counted forever.

Shisui's lips part, as if to speak. To say something. Call out for Itachi, perhaps. But it isn't words that come out.

Words didn't bleed like that.

Itachi holds him up before he hits the ground completely.

When he rolls him over, Shisui is shaking. Itachi's fingers are lost in crimson. He'd worn his brown coat when he'd stepped out of the house, Itachi remembered distinctly. But chest down there was not a speck of brown anymore.

And Shisui's eyes are red.

Lips quivering, spouting more blood, Shisui brings a shaking hand up to Itachi's, pressing something cold into it. Something he'd meant to give Itachi a long time ago. His breath comes out in shaky clouds of cold air.

...Soon those red eyes begin to fade to black, bleeding into obsidian, receding into an abyss. He feels something cold on his cheek, like raindrops – except they are not raindrops, but something much saltier.

Itachi wipes his eyes, smearing them with red as he watches the stars reflect perfectly in Shisui's eyes.

He has stopped shaking.

And when he leaves, he takes Itachi with him.

...Years later, Itachi would still touch that necklace. He would still open his eyes in the middle of the night when Shisui sat on the end of his bed. He would stare into those eyes for an eternity until Shisui would crawl over him, that smile on his lips... That secret smile only Itachi knew.

And it would still feel warm when he held him like that. It still felt real. He could still feel Shisui inside him, around him, beside him... Watching over him.

When Itachi looked up at the stars, he knew he was looking into Shisui's eyes again.