A Shisui and Itachi bildungsroman based loosely off a proposal I made to ita-chi-uchiha. AU, in that through some funky chain of events, Shisui and the Uchiha clan are still around. Characters' personalities are altered accordingly.

Rated M for language and sex.

I do not own Naruto, but I do own this silly headcanon.

SOUTHERN JOY.

Shisui, the easygoing genius, was always something of a backwards child, which explains why he proposed then kissed Itachi for the first time. During their induction into the Academy, while the Yondaime Hokage gave a speech about the Will of Fire, the two had engaged in one or two childish liplocks behind the backs of their parents. Purposefully taking advantage of Itachi's young age, Shisui designated him as his eight-year-old equivalent of a 'fuck-buddy,' simply waiting to be corrupted.

Within hours of their first meeting at the doors of the Academy, he'd already planted a nice big wet one on the oblivious Itachi's lips. Other than the request for more kisses, he was unaffected yet receptive to Shisui's scandalous suggestions. Throughout the meet-and-greet and formalities, the two would locate each other, kiss, and separate, like intersecting lines on a graph. Across crowds, Shisui could feel his steady stare, and playfully returned it. When closer, he'd tug lightly at Itachi's shaggy black hair and loop it around his finger.

"When you grow up," he'd smoothly whispered while Minato-sama's distracted everyone with his oration, "I know I'm going to marry you."

In a voice that did not seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation, Itachi responded, "If you ask, I will say yes."

His triumphant moment – I have a girlfriend! – was cut short when he'd heard Itachi's father proudly remark, "He's a smart boy, this one," to an overly-enthusiastic future instructor.

Betrayed, Shisui abandoned all teachings of courtesy and marched up to Itachi. "You're a boy?"

His heavily lashed eyes widened, his face reddened, his jaw slackened. But for all the mortification Itachi endured at that moment, he remained silent. Fugaku, his father and coincidentally Shisui's clan head, frowned down at him. "It's been a while, Shisui-kun," he said, "This is my son, Itachi."

The boy inclined his head elegantly. "It's a pleasure to meet you." In response, he bowed deeply to his clan superior, muttered a few obligatory phrases, and stomped away, utterly bewildered. He's too pretty for his own damn good, he decided.

Anko, who noticed the whole affair simply because she always notices Shisui, patted him on the shoulder teasingly. "It's okay, Shishi-kun. I thought he was a girl, too."

"Shut up, Anko. And don't call me Shishi-kun," he snapped, tending to the wounds of his injured, childish pride.

She retreated to continue her campaign from afar. Anko laughed, armed with a pointed finger, "Gay! Shisui's gay!" Naturally, everyone craned their necks to witness this outed gay boy. Unable to escape, Shisui stubbornly dug his feet in the ground and protested that no, he was not gay, and it was all Itachi's fault because he was too damn girly and therefore, the real homosexual.

For that brash, embarrassing, and downright rude accusation, Shisui was assigned the role of 'errand boy' in the Uchiha main house for the next six months. Fugaku treated him with disdain and spite, because anyone who attacked his child prodigy attacked him. At that point, Mikoto was huge with child, sore, tender, and always tired. Shisui found himself rushing back and forth from markets to attend to any of her outrageous cravings, which consisted mostly of illegal amounts of tomatoes.

As if that wasn't torture enough, he'd dodged slurs and name calling from all the Academy homophobes. Although Shisui was getting tired of defending himself, he enjoyed flirting with all the girls to assert what he called his "straight as a board" sexuality.

With a genius in the classroom and the expectations of the Uchiha clan riding on his shoulders, he also found himself a rising star among the future-nin ranks, with a particular skill in genjutsu. Shisui would spend his allotted training time wading in the Nakano, focusing on controlling a single sense – first sight, then sound, touch, smell, and taste. His most successful venture was a genjutsu cast on himself, in which he turned the Nakano into the ocean. He stood on the shore, hot sand scalding his feet, seagulls' screeches, salty smells, fresh air invading his lungs, waves crashing in for high tide, and the touch of the water as it neared and engulfed him, knocking him backwards, drowning him.

He awoke on the banks of the Nakano, disoriented, sweating, breathing hard. What a wonderful way to kill.


A week passed after Shisui found himself contracted to a slave-driving devil. He was feeding the koi in Mikoto's pond when Itachi extended a plate of generously sugared dango. "Forgive me," he said, bowing lower than he ought to, "It's my fault you're doing my chores." When Shisui didn't respond right away, he bent himself into a deeper ninety-degree angle with the sweets perfectly parallel to the floor, as if it would make a difference. From there, he could see that the back of Itachi's hair had been messily trimmed, and little tufts of it spiked up here and there.

"Stand up, stand up. My back hurts just looking at you," Shisui said, having derived enough amusement out of the moment. With a mouthful of dango, he added "Thanks for the food, but it's not your fault."

Itachi sat beside him, plate in his lap. "If I didn't look so feminine, you wouldn't have gotten in trouble."

Shisui spluttered and choked on his next stick. "Is that why your hair looks like a duck butt?"

"I was trying to look like a boy."

"Uh-uh, you look stupid now."

At that, Itachi deflated. Shisui couldn't help but wonder about the kid – he was eager to please, robotically mature, and more intelligent than he. Like him, Itachi was a child of the war era, and bore an adult, sad, toughness about him. It still didn't change the fact that he was, in fact, a child.

"Have you ever seen a head Hyuuga?" Shisui asked, patting Itachi's hair in an attempt to flatten it, "They've got nice hair, sort of like yours. And even though some of them wear it long, it still looks manly." He winked at Itachi and tossed the last of the koi's flaky meal into the pond.


One month later, Itachi's hair gathered itself into a tiny ponytail at the nape of his neck, and screaming Sasuke with familiar looking hair pushed his way into the family. Mikoto doted on him to no end, Fugaku named him after a famous shinobi to foreshadow his becoming a ninja of the same caliber, and Itachi delicately placed the child on an unreachable pedestal and worshipped him as a cherub. When his mother failed to quiet Sasuke, she'd simply hand him to Itachi, and he'd quiet down immediately. Shisui was the opposite; whenever he was assigned babysitting duty, Sasuke would actively find ways to injure himself or spew bodily fluids everywhere with such precision and timing that Shisui would always get in trouble.

"I feel like an actual slave," he complained to Itachi while they did their homework, "Academy, then chores here, then homework, then training, then sleep. Repeat until I die."

"Or until you become a genin."

"Not possible. We've only been in the Academy for a year."

Itachi twirled his pen around his fingers. "Father wants me to make genin this year."

"Your dad," Shisui bit into another dango stick – Itachi had gotten him addicted – and pointed it right at him, "is fucking ridiculous."

Shisui always had that mouth on him. Whether it was spitting dirty words or pressed against a blushing schoolgirl was entirely up to him. He'd still wanted to corrupt Itachi for havoc, sheer fun, shits and giggles, but Itachi never showed that naïve obedience he had at their Academy orientation. Shisui took it as a sign that Itachi didn't really trust him.

That was okay. They were ninja, after all.

"I'll make genin," Itachi said with rare, untactful confidence. His gaze slid to Shisui's expectantly.

He noted the challenge. If Itachi, who was two years him junior, could become genin after one year in the Academy, he certainly can, too.

It was easier than he thought. Their past six months consisted of hard work, afternoon power naps, and the constant satisfaction of Itachi's outrageous sweet tooth. After acing the test effortlessly, Shisui emerged from the Academy, Leaf symbol glinting in the sun.

"Congratulations." Itachi smiled, carrying his own forehead protector in his hand.

Then, Itachi kissed him as one would give out a handshake. Tall and lanky for his age, he only had to lean up inch closer, and there he was, kissing him, his hair long enough to tickle his cheek, lips rougher than a girl's, wet, opened, hot breath, the aftertaste of dango –

"Mmph, whoa, whoa, shit – stop." Gracelessly, Shisui flailed and shoved him away with more force than intended. "You're seven, Itachi, you shouldn't be kissing people like that. You shouldn't be kissing me."

"You're nine, and you've kissed just about every girl in our class," Itachi's eyelids drooped, slightly ashamed, fractionally angry, and fully in control. "But I'm sorry to have offended you. I just thought it-"

"—Fitting?" he laughed bitterly. One year ago, they were children, just like everyone else, just like the civilians. A too-friendly embrace here and there wouldn't hurt. They could play the 'child' card and be excused, but not anymore. Now they were ninja. Legitimate ninja. Itachi, the renowned Uchiha prodigy. Shisui, the genjutsu genius and speed demon. For now, they were genin, but no doubt their rank would escalate – fast.

It was common knowledge – especially to the excellent, that exceptional ninja die young.

Itachi read his expression as he would read a technique with his soon-to-be-awakened Sharingan. To awaken his doujutsu early, he was raised to use his eyes attentively. At times like this, his intensity unnerved Shisui.

"Yes." He said, without once moving his eyes from Shisui's. "Fitting."


"Don't they get in the way?"

"…"

"Your eyelashes, I mean."

The crowd hushed, straining their ears to hear the contestants' conversation. Year after year, over enthusiastic rivals, vengeful enemies, and close friends battled in the Chuunin Exams only after exchanging dramatic words first. This round, the competitors were both extraordinarily young Uchiha. This was the battle the crowd paid for.

It had been a year since Shisui had taken a good look at Itachi. Their relationship receded from a brotherhood to a few occasional glimpses and compulsory hellos at family gatherings. Not that they had any real quarrel – they'd been separated into different teams, and their genin routine became hectic with training, teamwork building, and missions.

That single year brought subtle changes. Shisui's curls grew increasingly unruly, and he stood tall and lean, without any trace of baby fat. Still growing out that pony tail, still too young for his mind, and still too thin for his own damn good, Itachi's eyes had narrowed, and he'd matured into his height. He was only eight, and yet he survived the first two exams and the first round of the final exam while those twice his age failed.

The exam proctor looked left and right at the two, waiting on any final words. The two were anticlimactically silent.

"Begin!"

Shisui slid backwards, creating distance. From what he vaguely remembered from sparring with Itachi, he was a deliberate, mostly stationary fighter who moved when absolutely necessary and never without reason. Testing the waters, Shisui tossed five wired shuriken intended to bind him. Obviously, Itachi wouldn't fall for a cheap trick; he dodged the shuriken and severed the wires with his own kunai and – much to Shisui's surprise – charged in a frontal attack.

No, Itachi wouldn't attack at point blank, he thought, attempting to analyze his opponent's strategy. When it came to taijutsu, Shisui was the clear superior. How much Itachi improved in other areas, well, he was going to find out now.

Once Itachi reached a close enough range, Shisui weaved signs for a Katon jutsu and exhaled the Uchiha-signature fireball straight at him. In the smoldering flames, he could barely make out Itachi's disintegrating form. He spun around, kunai in hand, searching for his adversary; he already deducted that the silhouette was a substitution or a clone.

The stadium grew eerily silent. Cursing himself for letting his opponent gain the upper hand and consequently berating his nerves, Shisui breathed deeply and shut his eyes. Where, in this bare dirt stadium, would Itachi hide? Above or below? Somewhere in the crowd? Someplace utterly obvious?

Minutes passed. A few irritable folks booed and whined, but the general crowd felt the suspense and held their breaths. Shisui scanned the territory, and, finding nothing, he knew that Itachi would keep him waiting there as long as he fucking pleased. No, stop, don't lose your temper now –

Shisui's sandals were soaked. He was waist deep, the sound of rapids, light current, cold water, clear air, blue in the sky and all around him. He stood in the ever familiar Nakano River, hisfavorite place, and only Itachi knows, only Itachi knows, goddamnit, it was like a precious secret and he used it against him in a genjutsu. Then, he saw him, standing closer to the bank with his pants rolled up to the knee and his beautiful hair free from its bind. Shisui clenched his fists, feeling the current accelerating, pushing him backwards. He had to break out of the illusion.

Now.

Then they switched places, as if the river itself shifted aside. Itachi was trapped in the current and Shisui stood at the riverbank, watching him drown. The river hungrily swallowed him. He struggled to stay afloat; his hands splashed and his head resurfaced and disappeared. Summoning the ocean, he conjured the waves, the salty breeze, and the sting of the water when it slid down his throat and into his lungs. He saw Itachi struggle against waves, the rip tide, hair plastered to his face, exhaling water, tumbling backwards.

Screaming.

"Shisui!"

The water was colder than Shisui thought. He had broken into a dead man's sprint into the arms of his own sea, bare chested, arms working, swallowing the searing water, as blue as blue, eyes on the bobbing black form that was Itachi. Blindly he clawed at liquid until he felt a handful of fiber – hair – then hugged Itachi's small, shuddering body to him.

"You fucking scared me," Shisui said breathlessly, pushing the hair from his face.

Itachi kissed him, close-mouthed but desperate, and in that moment, Shisui, stunned, could feel nothing but his lips. Pulling away, Itachi whispered his thanks, and then looked at him with the reddest eyes he had ever seen.

The Sharingan.

Fuck.

A hand grasped a handful of Shisui's curls and pushed him underwater, held him there. Another trapped and twisted his wrist to suppress any struggling. But Shisui had already acknowledged defeat. Itachi had beaten his genjutsu – trapped him in a double layer of genjutsu, more like – and used his damn emotions against him.

He awoke, choking frantically on air, to the moans of a confused crowd and the proctor declaring Itachi the victor.

After the tournament, he approached Shisui with his classic apologetic dish of dango. He was almost tempted to refuse until he saw the concerned knit of Itachi's eyebrows, and the visible pain in his overly expressive eyes. "They didn't promote me," he said apologetically –Shisui's embarrassing loss was for nothing. "Congratulations, though." He nodded towards the light green vest, the signature mark of a Konoha chuunin, slung over Shisui's shoulder.

"That's bullshit." He reached over and snagged his the chubbiest looking dumplings to stifle the screaming in his throat. "Why didn't they?"

"Father asked. They said I was too young."

Wearily, he repeated, "Bullshit."

Silence. Shisui looked at this boy – just a boy, for godssake and saw red eyes, felt his hands in his hair and the ocean eat him alive like acid. "Goddamn it, Itachi," he said, the water he had ingested slipping from his eyes – he was a horrible shinobi, terrible, a disgrace to the Uchiha – "You could kill me and you wouldn't bat a pretty little eyelash."

Like a heavy weight, Itachi's forehead clunked on his shoulder, there to rest. "That's not true," he whispered, voice cracking boyishly. "That's not true. That's not true, and you know it." Shisui felt wetness through his shirt, but he brushed it off as imaginary. He knew Itachi. As a ninja and as an Uchiha, he would never show such weakness, not like passionate Shisui.

But he also knew a late afternoon of screeching cicadas, the occasional splash of koi, eating dango and sipping hand squeezed lemonade. They sprawled in the garden, sharing non-physical intimacy, hiding in the house's shadow, worn down by heat. "I don't want to be a shinobi," Itachi confessed to the grass. Shisui just happened to be listening.


"Happy birthday, Sasu-chan." Shisui ruffled the now seven year old Sasuke's already ruffled hair and dispensed a square, wrapped present into the boy's eager hands. "Open it before Itachi's. It'll minimalize the disappointment." The birthday boy darted away to place the gift where the others happily sat and rejoined his own party, infested with like-minded, ninja-bound Academy students.

A drained-faced Itachi greeted him next. "Save me, Shisui," he said, "These children will be the death of me."

"Let's go for a walk. I don't feel like taking my shoes off anyway." Shisui beckoned Itachi out into the summer evening, the lamplight, and the soothing white noise of their favorite Nakano River. "I hear," he said conversationally, "that Sasuke's class is quite the interesting group. They've got Sasuke, for one…"

Itachi counted them off a memorized list, "A boy from the Inuzuka and Aburame clan, the head Hyuuga, someone from the Akimichi, Nara, Yamanaka. Not to mention the Yondaime's son, Naruto. Konoha's greatest are represented in them." He smiled softly, "Although right now, they're only capable of giving me a migraine."

Ever since the exam, the two cousins made an active effort to remain close. In their shinobi careers, Shisui had mastered the Sharingan, entered the Police Force, and began dabbling in the complicated art of teleportation. Itachi was finally promoted to chuunin and was recruited into the prestigious ANBU Black Ops. Shisui happily played the role of Itachi's older brother and nothing more. Their previous 'romantic' encounters were swept wordlessly underneath a rug, and much to Shisui's satisfaction, Itachi hadn't made any of his funny moves in years.

"Sasuke's growing up," Shisui observed, removing his sandals and soaking his feet in the river.

Itachi shook his head. "It's terrifying. Once he becomes a genin, I won't be able to stop worrying about him."

"He can handle himself. You and I survived for this long, after all."

"I know. He'll probably surpass me one day."

Shisui snorted. "You're just being modest. Those kids were raised in peace time. Compared to you and me, they're soft and squishy with elastic cheeks."

"They've got potential." Itachi tilted his chin upwards, to the stars. When did the sky get so dark? "Hopefully we won't have a need for promising shinobi."

Scowling, Shisui said, "I bet we're going to see another war before we hit thirty." Itachi threw him a reproachful look, and their conversation continued no further.

This perfect silence was why he loved being with Itachi. Together, they dangled their feet in their river, bumping feet purposefully without so much of a grin, immersed in a solitary reverie while knowing someone was there, beside him, thinking of something or someone or of him. Itachi's hair, now settling just above his shoulder blades, intertwined with the grass where he lay. When Shisui looked over at him, he was as good as asleep.

"Shisui. I'm dying."

"No, you're not." Shisui nudged him. "You're just sleeping."

His eyes slit open, squinting at the grey clouds between his long lashes. Voice low and husky, like a cracked whisper, he said, "When I registered in ANBU, they conducted a thorough physical examination. They discovered an anomaly, something wrong within my heart. I won't live past twenty, twenty-two at best."

In all his years of knowing him, Shisui never saw Itachi's eyes look so blank. So defeated. "Bullshit," he whispered, clenching his fists to keep himself from trembling. "That's bullshit. What's wrong with your heart? I'll be fucked if they can't cure it. We've got the best medic-nins the world has ever seen."

"They can't cure me, Shisui."

"I'll find the Slug Princess, Tsunade-hime for you. She can help you."

Abruptly, Itachi sat up, clutching the grass, kicking at the Nakano. "There's nothing, Shisui. Nothing. Nothing you can do for me." His muscles tautened, and his arms quaked. He was thirteen, as much a boy as eight was, already as burdened as a man, and already submitting to death.

Shisui wrapped his hand around his elbow. Tugging him back down by his joint and gathering him in his arms, he whimpered incoherently, kissed the top of his head, gathered his fingers in his hair. "Shh. Don't cry. Itachi, please."

Itachi breathed into his chest and gripped his shirt to steady himself. As much as he was shivering, he wasn't the one crying.


Fugaku, Mikoto, Shisui, Yondaime Hokage, and the medic-nin team in charge of his treatment. Firmly, Itachi decreed that Sasuke would not be told until his illness became too severe to hide. Quitting the shinobi life would lengthen his lifespan, but he refused. None of his ANBU squad members had to know. Itachi took his medicine under the pretense of taking daily eye supplements. Weekly, he visited the hospital for a check-up.

Shisui could see absolutely nothing wrong with him. Aside from informing his parents and the handful of changes to his schedule, Itachi was as normal as Itachi could be – an outstanding ninja, a sweet older brother, a loyal pacifist, and a quiet friend. The gnawing knowledge of his imminent death faded over the years, that he was only reminded when Itachi swallowed his three little pills and when Mikoto greeted him home with a tragically sad smile.

"You've been going on a lot of dates," Itachi observed neutrally when his friend stood up to leave the dango restaurant to go to just that.

Shisui, at eighteen, grew up to be a handsome womanizer; Itachi, at sixteen, could be mistaken for completely asexual. "Anko. Yeah. She really likes me."

"And you?"

He paused to consider this. "I like her. She's strong, sweet, funny, beautiful, loyal, and she's been through a lot after that Orochimaru fiasco. I like her a lot – just not love yet, you know? We'll see after tonight." He left, whistling cockily. Itachi didn't even have the stomach to finish his tea.

Shisui, being the backwards child he was, brought Anko home before breaking the three magic words to her. Without hesitation, she'd forced him on the bed, kissing him (tasting like dango), hands underneath his shirt, exploring his muscles. "I've wanted you for so long," she whispered in between kisses, lowly. Shisui felt himself twitch at her boldness, and snatched at her bun, releasing her hair down her naked shoulders. She was beautiful that way.

Anko clearly enjoyed control – he wasn't going to complain when his pants were expertly unzipped and his dick was in her mouth. Grasping at her hair, Shisui watched her intensely as she sucked on him, teasing his head, licking his slit, taking him in her hand, quickly bobbing up and down, and nearly swallowing him whole. She looked up at him and sputtered, laughing, a little nervous, "Why do you have your Sharingan on?"

Shisui threw his head back, grinning in sheer pleasure. "Oh God – everything feels better – clearer this way."

"Is it really?" she pulled away from him only to settle on his lap, guiding Shisui into her.

Shisui's legs shuddered at the feeling. "Goddamn, you're soaked."

Biting her lip, Anko squeezed his shoulders for support and shifted her hips, slowly, teasingly. Shisui, initially mesmerized by her hair, spotted the curse mark on her shoulder, bumped up like a tender bruise. He leaned up to kiss the sensitive mark, grasped her ass, and impelled her to move faster. Moaning and giggling, she complied, back arching and nails digging into his skin.

Then, Shisui saw him.

The door, left cracked open by Anko's rushed lust, and in its shadows, Itachi. His eyes, blood red, and his lips, parted. His expert gaze rendered Anko transparent, and penetrated Shisui with cold flames. The angriest, the most hurt he had ever him.

As if she sensed Shisui's intensity, Anko rode him faster, gasping his name. "Shisui, I love you."

But he only saw Itachi's eyes, the way he bit his tongue, the slender neck he hidden by his collar, the long hair he'd dedicated years to maintaining, the soft sound of his velvet voice, those feminine eyelashes, the thin muscles he'd had the pleasure of seeing dipped in the Nakano, and what he would be saying now- should be saying now:

"Shisui, I love you."

With a desperate, shuddering breath, he came inside Anko, and Itachi slipped away.

When she collapsed beside him, glowing and beaming in all her post-intercourse beauty, Shisui only pushed her away, snatched his nearest pair of pants and darted after him.

He located Itachi at the Nakano, of all places, wading in one of its shallower parts, staring his feet, distorted by the river's flow. Inelegantly, Shisui sloshed after him, wearing only his half zippered pants and his curly hair tousled from sex. Itachi neither looked up nor took notice of him.

And when Shisui spun him around and kissed him, he tasted blood.

"You're too late, Shisui," Itachi hissed venomously, tilting his chin away from him.

"Bullshit," he repeated over the years and years. "I would be too late if you were already dead."

With a handful of hair, Shisui pulled him in for a second kiss. Itachi wrenched himself out in the opposite direction and spat at him derisively, more blood than saliva. "If you think you can realize you love me while you're fucking some other girl, you're terribly wrong."

Stunned, with warm blood burning on his cheek, Shisui said weakly, "Itachi, you don't curse."

"Fuck it. I'm going to die in five years anyway."

The words sounded awkward, forced on Itachi's tongue. Shisui choked on his own bitter laugh. "Yeah. You're right. Fuck it. Fuck me, because I've spent all these years not wanting to lose you but not wanting to have you. Fuck yourself for waiting so long for an ingrate like me. Fuck the world for being so damn shitty. Fuck your clan for making you a robot under pressure. Fuck being a shinobi. Fuck your dying heart. Fuck it all." The blood curled down his face, like steel in his mouth. "Goddamn it, Itachi, why do you do all this shit if you hate it so much?"

Coughing, Itachi's knees gave way, and the river soaked his clothes and his hair, and his blood and his tears flowed with the current. He said nothing more, but let Shisui hold him and kiss the metal from his mouth. And Itachi accepted that he hated himself, hated the blood on his hands, hated his painted raven mask, and hated his red eyes.

Sitting in the river, Shisui cradled him – for he was still just a boy – and told him how he loved his long hair, loved his deep voice, loved his natural intellect, loved his serenity, loved his sweet tooth, loved his silence, loved his uncorrupted ass, loved how he loved, and loved his bottomless black eyes.

Later that night, together bearing the burden of a woman's rage like they carried many things, they solemnly cleaned up Anko's vandalizing of Shisui's apartment.


Okay, this was going to be a one shot, but I think I'll write up another chapter at another date. This is getting quite lengthy! Thanks for reading. Review, please!