Warning - umm... there's some ZabuKisa BDSM in this chapter. I kid you not! Also, some poorly written angst, at least in my opinion.

The second Deidara felt well enough to stand, he made a beeline for Kisame's room, using the wall for support. Sasori had put a new splint on his broken shin and fed him some painkillers but the injury still hurt like hell. By the time he crossed the hallway, he was sweating and breathing quickly from the pain.

"Damnit Deidara... what are you doing out of bed?" Sasori abruptly appeared from around a corner, startling the blonde so bad he nearly fell over. The puppetmaster scowled and slung Deidara's arm over his shoulder to steady him. "You shouldn't be moving around at all," he muttered.

"I need to see Kisame," the blonde rasped. "Please!" His voice sounded hoarse and his throat hurt as though he'd been screaming bloody murder for hours on end. The last thing he could remember from his ordeal was being injected with Orochimaru's truth serum... everything after that was just a nightmare. All he knew was what Sasori had told him - that Kisame had risked his life to rescue him, putting himself in so much danger it was nearly suicidal. To think he'd found the suiton lab, infiltrated it, and fought the sannin single-handedly was just incredible. But now the swordsman was near death as a result and Deidara's guilt was utterly overwhelming. He'd gone against Kisame's orders, flying so low that Orochimaru had spotted him. It was all his fault!

"Fine, I'll let you see him," Sasori growled. "But he's not doing well. It'll upset you."

"I don't care," Deidara replied hoarsely. "I want to be by his side." He let Sasori help him over to the swordsman's room, his heart pounding in his chest. When they entered the small bedroom, his throat tightened and his eyes immediately welled up with tears. Kisame looked like a corpse. He was comatose and his pretty blue skin was pale and waxen, covered in sweat. There was a feverish flush on his gaunt cheekbones and he was gasping for air, his breath coming in shallow, rapid pants. Samehada was curled up at his side, so exhausted it didn't even bother to bristle in the men's presence.

"Like I told you, he's gotten worse," Sasori stated as he sat Deidara down into a chair by the bed. "It seemed like he was recovering at first but now he's regressing. I don't know what to do." The redhead's voice sounded strained and exhausted. When he pulled a wet cloth from a basin and laid it over the swordsman's forehead, it seemed as though he was genuinely concerned. Deidara had never seen his partner act so kind before... to see him this way was more than a little bizarre.

"Well, I have some training as a medic," the blonde said softly, trying to be brave even though he was terrified. "Maybe I can help." He pressed the back of his hand against Kisame's face and quickly withdrew it - it was like touching a hot stove. "God, he's burning up," he gasped, astonished. "Take these blankets off him!"

Sasori silently complied, gathering up the sweat-soaked sheets and laying them next to the bed. Lacking a sense of touch, he probably hadn't even known how overheated the swordsman was. Now that Kisame was uncovered, Deidara awkwardly scooted up his chair to get a better look. He placed his hand on the man's chest and felt his heartbeat... it was rapid and irregular. When he probed further, running his fingers over the feverish skin, he found that the lymph nodes were swollen under his arms and in his neck. "It's like he's fighting an infection," he murmured. "Are you sure you gave him the correct antidote?"

"Of course I'm sure," Sasori snapped, crossing his arms. "I know how to cure my own poison!"

Deidara clicked his tongue. The redhead had told him about the fight, that Kisame had lost his temper and, quite frankly, tried to murder him. He believed that his partner was being honest... after all, the swordsman was quite an emotional wreck. Sasori's sharp tongue had no doubt succeeded in pushing him over the edge. And Deidara also believed that the redhead had given him the antidote. Sasori's empathy was genuine, for once - it was obvious in both his voice and his actions.

"Well, perhaps he's poisoned from battling Orochimaru," he said. "Did you check him for wounds?"

Sasori scowled, looking thoroughly embarrassed. "If you're asking me whether I undressed him, the answer's no," he growled. "I checked him from the waist up and he only has a few scratches. From the waist down, I just assumed it's the same story! He didn't mention anything about being poisoned by Orochimaru before he fell unconscious!" The redhead was obviously humiliated by his lack of medical skills... he was good at killing people but horrible at healing them.

"Well, we need to find out," Deidara stated, trying not to sound condescending. "Take his clothes off so I can examine him."

Sasori sighed and rubbed his temples in his typical display of frustration. A few moments passed before he finally complied, his slender fingers deftly slipping off Kisame's sandals, legwarmers, and trembling briefly before pulling off his pants. When he was finished with the process, his doll-like face was insanely flustered, his grey eyes narrowed and insanely bright. "Shut up," he muttered, even though Deidara hadn't said a word. "Not my fault he's fuckin' sexy."

If Deidara were any less concerned, he would have burst out in laughter. He was realizing more and more that he wasn't the only one who lusted for Kisame - the man's exotic body seemed to erect cock like a magnet attracting metal. Obviously, this was more of a bane than a boon for the poor swordsman, who was traumatized as hell from his ordeal with Itachi. "Yah, I hear you," he murmured in response to Sasori. "The guy's cursed with hotness."

Swallowing a lust-related lump in his throat, he forced himself to examine Kisame's nude body. It was difficult to give a proper examination and not start groping. Nonetheless, he found what he was looking for soon enough. Several twin punctures marred the swordsman's thighs and calves, swollen and fringed in black like rattlesnake bites. "Shit," he exclaimed, mortified. "This is what's killing him!" By now, it was far too late to try and suck the venom out - it was already circulating through Kisame's bloodstream. He looked up at Sasori with desperation.

"Damnit," the redhead seethed. "I should have looked earlier!"

"Can you make an antidote?" Deidara asked, his voice near hysteria.

Sasori rubbed his temples again then shrugged. "Yah, but it might-"

"Just do it!" the blonde snapped, his heart pounding.

The puppetmaster scowled and stalked rigidly out of the room. "It might be too late," he finished curtly. "Give me an hour." And then he was gone.

Deidara sighed, his hands trembling as he laid a sheet over the swordsman's midsection. He had to remind himself several times over that it was his fault, not Sasori's, that Kisame was dying. The redhead was a terrible medic but he'd done his best. And luckily, he was genius at concocting antidotes - his grey eyes had barely glanced over Kisame's wounds before reaching a conclusion as to the nature of the venom. But luck was a fickle thing... it could turn to shit at any point. Deidara couldn't help but wonder if Kisame's luck had expired. Over a day had passed since they'd reached this hideout and no normal human being would even still be alive at this point. Deidara gently ran his fingers through the swordsman's sweat-soaked hair and hoped beyond hope that his lover's luck would last just a little bit longer.

"Don't die," he murmured, his body tense with dread. "I wouldn't be able to bear it!" He took one of Kisame's calloused hands in both of his and clutched it desperately. If the swordsman died, he was pretty sure he'd lose his mind. Little splotches of hallucination still dripped and shivered in his peripheral vision, reminders of his own sheer stupidity in allowing himself to be captured. He wondered if they'd ever go away, if perhaps he really was partially insane from the experience. His grip tightened on Kisame's hand and he suddenly began to sob, overwhelmed with fear for both the swordsman's life and his own.

X X X

As Kisame neared death, his vivid flashblacks continued. He relived his life, seeing, hearing, tasting and feeling everything... acutely aware of every last detail but powerless to change any of his actions. And currently, he was trapped back in his young, skinny body, recovering from his alcoholic nervous breakdown with Zabuza at his side. The memories were so painful, in so many ways...

Zabuza remained at Kisame's side through his entire recovery, cooking for him, cleaning his house, reminding him to shower and brush his teeth like a normal human being. Sometimes his comrade's tenacity seemed like too much... Kisame found himself lashing out at the man, telling him to leave. But Zabuza wouldn't. He was fucking determined, if anything. He'd been through a life just as hard as Kisame's and if there was one thing he was good at, it was making those around him stronger.

For a while, Zabuza's attentions embarrassed him. He didn't want the younger man to see him weak like this. But in time, he gained a passive acceptance of his comrade's help, realizing that the quicker he healed, the better. Zabuza had taken a massive amount of time off from work just for him, so he supposed he should do his part and recover. When he realized that his self-destructive drinking binge had been a nervous breakdown, it was easier to deal with... he made himself face what had caused him to break and tried to think of ways to cope. Hoping the problems would just go away was pointless.

Their time under the same roof was bizarrely domestic. Kisame had never shared his life with anyone before and he found himself liking it more and more as he recovered. Part of him almost wanted to hit the bottle and relapse, just so the man would stay longer. But he didn't, of course. Either way, he became worried that the second Zabuza left, his absence would hurt just as bad as being tossed aside by Fuguki.

They slept in the same bed, ate meals together, showered with each other. How can you be so close to someone without becoming attached? And while they fooled around a lot, Zabuza never went all the way with him. It was kind of endearing, knowing that the man cared about him enough to keep a bit of distance until he was back in one piece... but Kisame ended up just becoming horny, all the damn time. By the time he was better, he was practically begging for sex, becoming aroused just from the thought.

One tepid, dull evening, he was doing some sit ups, waiting for Zabuza to come back home. His comrade wasn't back out doing full missions yet but he was leaving more and more to tend to business. While he knew the man had to get back to work eventually (they both did), it frightened him to think that one of these nights, he wouldn't come back at all. The thought distracted him so much that he lost track of his sit ups... he'd been somewhere near three hundred when he'd forgotten the count. He'd been going out to the training field daily, sparring and honing his battleskills, and his body was beginning to return to the way it had been before, although his lean muscles still looked scrawny compared to Zabuza's brutal appearance. He wondered if maybe he hadn't gotten thinner so much as Zabuza had just gotten bigger. The man looked like an adult, whereas he still looked a bit like a gangly teenager. Perhaps his development was stunted or something. He wouldn't doubt it. Even though he was back to eating normally, he'd never been able to hold down the kind of shit that was supposed to make people look strong. Red meat made him hurl on the spot and the one time he'd tried an egg, he'd only taken one bite before deciding that it was the most disgusting thing on the planet. He got his protein from soy and an occasional bit of seafood, neither of which he ate enough of. The story of his life! When it came to food, he was a fuckin' pussy, simply put.

When Zabuza finally came home, it was almost midnight. Kisame had passed out on the floor... not because he was drunk, he'd just tried to exercise to keep himself awake and had failed quite miserably, passing out in the middle of a push up. He rolled onto his back and gazed up at his comrade, who looked insanely tall from his vantage point on the floor.

"What're you doing down there?" Zabuza growled, smirking under his mask. "Other than looking fuckin' adorable?"

Kisame grinned and laughed dryly. The way Zabuza talked to him made him feel a bit ridiculous, although it always made him blush. "I guess I was waiting for you," he replied. "But I fell asleep, obviously. It's late." He noticed that Zabuza was a bit scratched up and his forehead was glistening with sweat. "Mission?" he asked passively.

Zabuza nodded, unholstering his giant blade and resting it by the doorway. "Nothing much," he stated. "Just took a while."

Kisame just said a 'hmm' in acknowledgment. He never pried into Zabuza's missions and the younger man gave him the same respect... although Kisame hadn't had a mission in weeks! Zabuza had seen to it himself, threatening Fuguki with some sort of leverage that Kisame himself didn't possess. It was a bit depressing that the younger man had more sway than he did in the shinobi world but he didn't let it bother him. In fact, he found it kind of sexy that Zabuza had yelled at Fuguki for his sake. He liked to think that maybe he even roughed the fat fucker up a bit. The two men bitterly hated each other, for obvious reasons. Zabuza even told him that Fuguki had become insanely jealous of their relationship, reduced to barking threats. The younger man thought it was funny but it made Kisame worried. He knew better than anyone that Fuguki never did anything unless there was a scheme behind it. If he was actually jealous, he could become dangerous. Fat or not, he was still a formidable shinobi, both physically and politically.

And if Fuguki really was angry for that reason, he certainly had plenty to seeth about. Everyone knew that Zabuza was staying with Kisame... the relationship wasn't secret, at all. Kisame found it dizzyingly romantic. He'd never been in a relationship before that wasn't concealed from the public eye. And while they didn't hold hands or any such nonsense when they were walking together, Zabuza had a possessive air about him that told everyone around them Kisame was his. It was so damn charming, it made his knees weak just thinking about it.

"I'm gonna take a shower," Zabuza stated, breaking his train of thought. "Wanna join me?" He had shed his mask and bandana and his face had a strip of dust on it where it had been exposed.

Kisame laughed. "I don't need one as much as you do," he replied. "But sure. What the hell." Honestly, he just wanted an excuse to be close to the man. He'd been horny all day and no amount of masturbation would tame his dick.

"Well come on then," Zabuza said. "Skinny bitch." He stepped over to Kisame and helped him up, lifting him to his feet without the slightest sign of strain. Their difference in mass was insane... it made Kisame feel rather effeminate, which he didn't mind at all. He supposed that someday his body would catch up with his age and gain some muscle but in the meantime, he enjoyed being Zabuza's 'skinny bitch.' The blunt term had become somewhat of a pet name.

They shed their clothes in the main room, as the tiny shower room was too cramped for moving around much. Kisame had seen Zabuza naked almost daily since he'd moved in but he still found himself ogling the younger man's ripped, tan body. He was just so damn manly. Aside from his muscular build, Kisame found it irresistibly erotic that the man had some body hair - there was a dark trail that ran down his abdomen, leading to his thick pubic hair, and a fuzz under his arms. If he didn't shave, he'd get a sparse five o'clock shadow on his face. Embarrassed by it, he shaved it diligently, but Kisame thought it was fuckin' hot. All he had was a little blue triangle on his crotch! Going through puberty, he'd glared down at the little patch day after day, thinking 'that's it?!'

Zabuza muttered a curse and popped his back before walking stiffly into the shower room and turning on the water. Knowing his comrade was probably exhausted, Kisame resisted the urge to throw himself at the man like a bitch in heat, instead trailing meekly behind. He couldn't help what his cock did, though... it was already half-hard. When the water was up to temp, both men slipped into the little space. There was barely enough room for two people but they somehow made it work, usually too horny for each other to care that it was impractical. Zabuza liked the way Kisame's skin looked when it was wet so sometimes he'd just drag him in for his own amusement.

"Damn," the dark-haired man muttered. "I'm filthy." Kisame watched the dirt pour off Zabuza and swirl into the drain. He grabbed a bar of soap and tentatively washed his lover's muscular back, running his fingers down his spine. Zabuza didn't look so bad himself when he was wet... his tan skin glistened under the water, the muscles beneath rippling. When he turned to face Kisame, the older man was blushing a shade of violet.

"What're you doing?" Zabuza asked, cupping his chin. "You ogling me again?"

"You're naked, Zabuza," Kisame laughed. "Of course I am." He looked away, feeling ridiculously lecherous. "I'm sorry... you're probably tired," he sighed. He'd been feeling guilt a lot lately that his comrade had to go out and work all the time while he stayed home and 'recovered.' He was in good health but Zabuza was still concerned, afraid that he wasn't ready to go back out and fight just yet. Perhaps he was right.

"I'm alright," Zabuza replied gruffly. "Compared to my usual life, these past few weeks have been a breeze." He slipped his thumb past Kisame's lips and watched as the older man groaned and eagerly teased it, water dripping from his mouth. Zabuza's expression was horny yet unusually remote, like he was somewhere else.

"What's the matter?" Kisame asked, reluctantly pulling the digit out of his mouth. "Something on your mind?" He looked down to find that the man's cock was becoming hard, jutting out from his dark patch of pubic hair. He bit his lip and forced himself to look away, afraid that he'd piss Zabuza off if he went for it. There was obviously something troubling the man.

"Yah, there is," Zabuza responded, his features hardening with what Kisame hoped wasn't anger. He was extremely possessive and sometimes got mad just thinking about how Fuguki used to fuck him. They'd had a few spats that had gotten violent, although neither man had ended up hurt. "You know how I've been trying to get you on my squad?" he asked.

Kisame nodded. To him, it sounded like a pipe dream. He'd never been a legitimate squad member... his 'real' missions from Fuguki always got in the way.

"Well, every time I work on it, Fuguki gives me shit," Zabuza growled. "Like I've said, he doesn't want to let you go."

Kisame shrugged silently. They'd had this conversation before. While he passively accepted his role as an assassin, Zabuza wasn't having it. He'd been struggling tooth and nail to get the old fucker to release Kisame from his duties. He just didn't understand why Fuguki couldn't get someone else to work under him... then again, he was clueless as to the nature of the assignments. Even high up in rank as he was, Zabuza wasn't permitted access to any details. No one was. The details were in the minds of Kisame, Fuguki and the Mizukage, and that was where they'd stay.

"I know it's not my place to pry, Kisame," Zabuza grated, "but what the hell does Fuguki have on you? It's... it's like he owns you!" His voice was getting louder and he was visibly angry, baring his sharp teeth.

"I told you from the start it wouldn't work," Kisame sighed, diverting his eyes. "You should just give up."

"Is that your answer for everything?" Zabuza seethed, moving in closer so their bodies were touching. "Whatever these missions are he sends you on, they're killing you! And it's like you don't even care!" The physical contact felt threatening rather than sexual.

"Of course I care," Kisame retorted, becoming angry himself. "I just know there's nothing I can do about it! And it's becoming more and more obvious that you can't either! I would love to quit working for Fuguki but I don't have a damn choice! You're wasting your fucking time!"

Zabuza narrowed his eyes, furious. "You think I've been wasting my time on you?" he snarled. Without warning, he brutally backhanded Kisame across the jaw. The older man had seen it coming but didn't have time to stop it. The blow split his lip... stunned, he lowered his head and dizzily watched his own blood swirl into the drain, diluting with the water. He didn't want to fight Zabuza. He'd rather get slapped around. The younger man had never bested him on the training field but when it came to disputes like this, Kisame usually just refused to fight. However, this was the first time Zabuza had actually hurt him. He was shocked.

"That's not what I meant," he murmured, his gaze refusing to pull itself up from the drain. His lip hurt something fierce and he wondered how bad Zabuza had split it.

"Damnit," Zabuza growled, his sharp gaze fixed intently on his comrade's face. "I'm sorry. Shit just... pisses me off." He cupped Kisame's chin in his hand to examine the wound and clicked his tongue when the older man winced involuntarily. "It's pretty bad," he muttered, as if to himself. "Needs a suture." He turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. Kisame glanced up long enough to see that the man's cock had become fully erect. For some reason, the realization sent the blood rushing to his groin. He immediately became painfully hard, his blue cock sticking out like a flagpole and flushed purple at the tip. He remembered how Fuguki had struck him the first time they'd fucked... how much it had shocked him, turned him on.

"Come here, Kisame," Zabuza growled, rummaging through a cabinet. "Let me..." He trailed off when he glanced back over at his lover, who was blushing fiercely and tentatively touching his lip, squeezing his rock-hard cock in a feeble attempt to make it go down. The sight must have been horny as hell because Zabuza seemed to forget what he was doing, softly shutting the cabinet door and stalking back over to the shower. The towel he'd haphazardly wrapped around his waist slid off his hips and fell to the floor, revealing his rigid erection. His grip was neither rough nor gentle as he took Kisame's hand and pulled it away from his lip. For a moment, he just stared at his partner's flushed, wounded face, as if he was searching for something. Apparently he found what he was looking for - a silent consent, perhaps? - because after the brief pause, he attacked Kisame's mouth like a man possessed.

Kisame moaned, light-headed. Zabuza had always been somewhat of a vicious lover but now, he was showing none of his usual restraint, ravaging his mouth with his tongue and biting his split bottom lip until blood was pouring down his chin. When Kisame tried to touch his comrade, the man grabbed his wrists and violently slammed them against the wall behind his head, growling animalistically. Delerious with fear and lust, Kisame struggled in the man's strong grasp, both loving and hating the way the grip brutally tightened in response until he couldn't feel his hands.

It was obvious that being so aggressive turned Zabuza on immensely. And as Kisame gasped and squirmed dizzily, he couldn't think of the last time he'd been so aroused. He found his hips moving beyond his control, his cock fucking the air. When Zabuza suddenly released him and grabbed him by the hair, he could barely make his legs move in his anticipation as he was roughly hauled out of the shower and into the bedroom. The younger man pushed him onto the bed so hard, it knocked the air from his lungs. Stunned and soaking wet, he could do nothing but raggedly catch his breath as his comrade stalked over to his discarded flak jacket and pulled something out. When he returned with the item, Kisame realized that it was a pair of metal handcuffs. Zabuza's job was often to apprehend criminals so he supposed the cuffs were crucial to some of his missions. Either that or he'd bought them solely for this situation.

Bondage? he thought, light-headed. Seriously?! The concept was odd to him but not exactly offputting. He didn't really know how he felt about it, as he'd never experienced it before. But considering he had a huge hard-on for the guy holding the cuffs, it was probably going to be incredible.

"Lay on your back," Zabuza growled, his voice dangerously soft. "And put your hands above your head."

Kisame reluctantly complied, stretching his lean body prone against the rumpled sheets. He bit his tongue to suppress a cry when his comrade leaned over and roughly cuffed his wrists, looping the restraints through a bar on the metal headboard. The cuffs were painfully tight, digging into his wrists, and when he glanced up at them, he realized that they were indeed professional, requiring a key to unlock. A shiver of lust ran down his spine solely from knowing Zabuza possessed the key and wouldn't use it until he was satisfied. He could keep me locked up here for days, he thought heatedly, his heart pounding in his chest. As long as he wants. The realization made his cock throb and his head spin.

"This is turning you on, isn't it?" Zabuza growled. Kisame looked over to find his lover glaring down at him hotly from beside the bed, his defined muscles tense with adrenaline. When he realized the man was expecting an answer, he nodded weakly, too flustered to speak. He flinched and inhaled sharply when Zabuza leaned down and ferociously kissed him again, raping his mouth with his tongue and making sure to abuse the swollen split on his lip. When he finally broke the long kiss, Kisame was gasping raggedly and whorishly moving his hips, begging to be touched. Zabuza briefly obliged him by trailing his fingers lightly down his torso but stopped before reaching the precum-slick tip of his cock.

"Damnit, Zabuza-"

Kisame's loud plea was cut short when the dark-haired man abruptly slapped him across the face, whipping his head to the side. He groaned deliriously, tasting blood in his mouth from where his sharp teeth had cut into his cheek. Before he could utter another protest, Zabuza shoved a wadded-up mess of cloth bandages into his mouth, the same ones he used to wrap his face. Kisame tried to spit them out but they were packed in too tight, just short of choking him.

"Sorry," Zabuza muttered, no sincerity in his tone. "But I've been wanting to do this for a really long time and I don't want you waking up the neighbors. You're loud enough just when I suck you off!"

Kisame rolled his eyes, humiliated. It was true he could get pretty vocal in the heat of the moment, although he had a feeling Zabuza just wanted an excuse to gag him. Either that or the man was planning to do something that would undoubtedly make him scream. Pondering it for a second, Kisame decided that he wanted it to be the latter. If Zabuza went easy on him at this point, he'd honestly be disappointed. He'd been having terrible, masochistic thoughts about getting ravaged by his comrade lately and he was thrilled it was finally happening. Furthermore, he realized with a pang of embarrassment that being tied up and gagged was only making him hornier. When Zabuza got on the bed and knelt over him, Kisame couldn't pull his gaze from the man's hard cock - he wanted it more than he'd wanted anything in his life.

"Not yet," Zabuza growled, noticing the heated direction of his partner's gaze. "I wanna take my time with you... make you beg some more."

Idiot, you put a fucking gag in my mouth, Kisame seethed. How am I supposed to beg? But when Zabuza leaned over and ran his tongue along the gill marks on his cheek, he realized that his body was doing all the begging, straining at its binds, squirming wantonly. Zabuza worked his way down, nipping at his jawline before slowly sinking further. When he reached the crook of Kisame's neck, he paused briefly, the expression on his face vicious and intense, before abruptly biting down. Startled, Kisame moaned into his gag and struggled fiercely but to no avail - Zabuza ruthlessly pinned him down and continued to clamp his jaw over the sensitive spot until his sharp teeth broke the skin and sank into the flesh. Growling softly, he kept his painful hold for a few long moments before finally letting go - when he sat back up, there was blood dripping from his mouth. His eyes were feverishly bright as he glared down at the wound, admiring his work.

"I don't want there to be any doubt that you're mine," he stated, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "I want everyone to know... especially you." He ran his fingertips over the ring of punctures, causing Kisame to groan and shiver. The marks were deep, trickling blood... it would take a long time for them to heal. With all his heart, Kisame hoped they would even scar. He imagined going about his life knowing the mark was there under his shirt, festering and itching, bleeding more when he picked the scabs. A constant reminder that he was Zabuza's property.

He'd belonged to Fuguki for almost a year and the bastard never left a single mark on him, afraid that someone would see it and become suspicious. While the secrecy had always been a turn-on in itself, Kisame had found himself occasionally wishing for the man's sharp teeth to penetrate his skin. What was the point of having them if you never used them? Zabuza's teeth had been filed upon acquiring the executioner's blade and it was obvious he'd been dying to try them out.

Kisame's whirling thoughts dispersed when the man continued his vicious foreplay, using his tongue and teeth to arouse and abuse his captive's sensitive flesh. He nipped at the punctures a few times before sinking lower to his chest, where he patiently teased both nipples until they were sore and hard. Liking the way Kisame's skin looked when marred, he made sure to leave bitemarks around each nipple, sinking in his teeth just enough so that little pinpricks of blood appeared. By the time he reached the older man's erection, the slender blue torso before him was a map of abuse, covered in welts and bites. When he noticed that Kisame was struggling to see the damage, he propped a pillow under his head to give him a better view. Kisame moaned against his gag, light-headed. His body looked like a battleground and his cock was weeping precum, throbbing for attention. Zabuza hadn't even begun to torment him and he was already on the verge of release, his balls tight and aching between his legs.

"Looks painful," Zabuza growled, his dark gaze fixed on his lover's wet, rock-hard cock. "I don't think I've ever seen you this flustered." When he grazed a finger over the tip, Kisame moaned urgently and bucked his hips, the brief contact nearly sending him over the edge. More precum trickled down his shaft, pooling in his already soaked pubic hair. Kisame was certain he'd never seen so much precum in all his life. Usually there'd just be a few drops before he came... but this was a weird, male equivalent of a tortured, aroused cunt. It was almost obscene. And it was clearly delighting Zabuza, who seemed intent on seeing just how much wetter he could get it. He smirked, baring a few sharp teeth, then lowered his head and licked the underside of the shaft. Kisame groaned loudly against his gag and wildly tried to thrust but Zabuza merely chuckled and pinned down his hips. As he continued his sadistic teasing, flicking his tongue over the tip and licking the shaft but refusing to take the swollen member in his mouth, Kisame felt like he going insane. He screamed and cursed against his gag and his eyes teared up with sheer frustration. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he realized that Zabuza had been right to gag him - if the bandages weren't blocking his mouth, he would've woken up all of Kirigakure by now.

When Zabuza's calloused, precum-slick forefinger slipped into his ass, his vision tunneled and he felt as though he might faint. He hadn't been penetrated by anything in months and the sharp, sudden intrusion hurt wonderfully. His breath was coming in short, ragged moans, muffled against the gag, and if it weren't for Zabuza's free hand still pinning his hip firmly to the bed, he'd be writhing, whorishly impaling himself on the single digit. After this much torture, his mind was melted like a burnt-down candlestick, focused only on fucking.

"Damn, you're a lot tighter than I thought you'd be," Zabuza murmured, neglecting Kisame's cock so he could observe his finger, which was only an inch deep in the passage. "It's like Fuguki was never there..."

If Kisame were any less flustered, he might have laughed. Zabuza had never been with another man and his naivety was charming. Getting fucked once every few weeks didn't make you looser, for crying out loud! And while Zabuza's inexperience was endearing, it was also heartbreaking. Years ago, when they'd first realized their mutual attraction, they'd vowed to be each other's first (excluding one-night stands with women, of course). Kisame had wanted dearly to hold onto that pact but Fuguki simply hadn't given him a choice. During the entire tryst, Zabuza had kept his hands off other men, seething that his lover was being dirtied and patiently waiting his turn. No wonder he was so damn possessive! And while his reason for waiting so long to fuck Kisame was supposedly for the sake of recovery, there was also undoubtedly an underlying feeling of disgust and rage. Kisame was used property... nothing would ever change that fact.

His thoughts dissipated when Zabuza roughly slid his finger in the rest of the way, burying it to the knuckle. His comrade had large hands - just the one digit stretched him until his passage was pulsing and sore. Zabuza's dark eyes were intense with lust as he acquired a slow, deliberate rhythm, thrusting his finger in and out. Soon, the pain diminished, leaving nothing but desire for more. When Zabuza paused briefly to squeeze in a second finger, Kisame groaned raggedly and struggled against his binds. Fuguki had fucked him a million damn times but he'd been drunk and/or coked out for every single round. Now that he was sober, he was acutely aware of every little detail, from his frenzied, rapid heartbeat to the bundle of nerves his comrade was hitting with every deep thrust. His sobriety paired with Zabuza's sadistic ministrations overwhelmed his senses, consuming him entirely.

"Holy shit, Kisame," Zabuza murmured as he thrusted. "You feel fuckin' amazing. I can't believe I waited so long to do this..." He crammed his fingers in a few more times before hastily withdrawing and positioning his cock up against the tight ring. His dick was just as flustered as Kisame's, wet enough with precum that he didn't even have to add any lubrication. Both men glared heatedly at each other for a moment, their hearts pounding, before Zabuza growled and suddenly pushed in his hard length, burying it to the hilt with one single thrust.

Kisame screamed against his gag and tears welled up in his eyes from the pain. What the fuck, Zabuza, he seethed, shuddering. That's not how you're supposed to do it! You have to go slow! His comrade's thick cock had penetrated him so fast, he felt as though he'd been split in half. When he blinked, the tears streamed down his face, beyond his control.

"Um," Zabuza muttered, glancing down at his partner's abused ass. "You're bleeding. That's not supposed to happen, is it?"

Kisame cursed against his gag and furiously shook his head. At this point, his lover's inexperience didn't seem so charming.

"Well, fuck... how am I supposed to know? Do you want me to pull out?"

A moment passed while Kisame thought about it. Finally, he narrowed his eyes and shook his head again. Painful as it was, he still wanted it. He'd been waiting too long for this to let a little pain discourage him. After all, pain seemed to be central to this weird, sadomasochistic screw. When Zabuza carefully began to work his cock in and out of the injured passage, Kisame winced and moaned simultaneously. Even though it hurt like hell, he wanted more. He wanted Zabuza to abuse him, fuck him to shreds! When the younger man finally unpinned his hips, Kisame found his body writhing, feverishly grinding Zabuza's cock. He knew exactly what movements made a fuck hornier... how to angle his hips so the cock inside him hit his prostate, how to tighten himself until the man above him cursed and came spontaneously. Even though he was on the bottom, he finally had some control... and he used it to its full potential, making sure to torture Zabuza just as much as the man had tortured him.

"Ah," Zabuza gasped, his face flushed. "You little bitch!" Whether or not he'd been expecting Kisame to show some prowess in this category, it was obvious he was still shocked. There was a hint of anger on his features, softened by lust, and he seemed more than a little flustered that his lover was so damn good at getting fucked. He leaned over and possessively tortured the punctures on Kisame's neck, growling as he aggravated the deep wounds even further with his teeth until blood pooled in the dip of the older man's collarbone. Meanwhile, his calloused fingers feverishly explored the other injuries he'd inflicted, roughly caressing the numerous bite marks until Kisame's body tingled and ached. When his fingers finally closed firmly around his comrade's erection, Kisame growled against his gag and came immediately with a few thrusts of his hips, spilling an immense amount of seed onto his stomach. Zabuza came mere seconds later, biting down so hard to muffle his own cries that his teeth formed a new ring of punctures over the first. The combined sensations of pain and orgasm were so intense they nearly made Kisame black out. He'd never been so thoroughly drained in all his life.

The same seemed to be true for Zabuza. For a while, the younger man couldn't even move, his chest heaving and his muscles trembling with exhaustion. When he finally lifted himself up and slowly pulled out, his eyes were half-lidded and his skin was glistening with sweat. He stared dully at his comrade's gagged mouth for a while before removing the wad of bandages. Kisame cursed listlessly and worked his sore jaw, noticing the bandages were splotched in blood from his split lip and cut cheek. "Damn, you're fucked up," Zabuza stated bluntly. The words didn't sound apologetic, at all.

"Shit, I'm gonna have to wear a mask for a while when I go out," Kisame replied hoarsely. "I bet I look like a fuckin' battered wife."

"Yah," Zabuza muttered. "You're a mess." He got off the bed and walked stiffly over to his flak jacket, where he pulled out a little key. When he unlocked the cuffs, Kisame wasn't surprised at all to see that his wrists were chafed just short of bleeding.

"And long sleeves," he added absently, rubbing them and wincing.

"You're gonna have to cover yourself head to toe," Zabuza said, smirking. "Luckily for you, it's starting to get cold out."

Kisame laughed. "Yah, I'm so lucky," he mused. "You're just gonna use that as an excuse to fuck me up even more!"

"You're probably right," the younger man growled, flashing his sharp teeth. "I'm already wondering how long it'll take for you to heal so I can do it again." He dipped a finger in the puddle of cum soaking Kisame's stomach and licked it, his eyes glinting. "You obviously enjoyed it," he said softly.

"Obviously," the older man echoed. He was too exhausted to be embarrassed... but it was still bizarre to think that being roughed up turned him on so much. Then again, it was comforting to know that of all people in Kirigakure, Zabuza was undoubtedly the most sadistic. There couldn't be a better match.

"By the way," Zabuza said, dispersing Kisame's thoughts. "I suppose now's as good a time as any to tell you. We both know we gotta get back to work, so..."

Oh great, Kisame seethed, diverting his eyes. He picks now to tell me he's moving out?!

"...So I've decided that you're gonna move in with me," the younger man finished, his eyes locked on Kisame's face, analyzing. "My apartment's way bigger than yours... I think it would feel kinda empty if I went back alone," he continued. "Plus, I can't wait to see what you'll look like cuffed to my bed."

Kisame grinned, trying hard not to look overly excited. It was exactly what he'd been hoping to hear ever since the younger man appeared on his doorstep all those weeks ago. "Of course I'll move in," he replied softly.

"Well, that's good," Zabuza growled. "Cuz if you said 'no,' I was gonna tie you back up and haul you over there against your will." He grazed a finger over Kisame's split lip. "Now that you're mine, there's no way in hell I'm letting you get away," he stated.

Kisame blushed, enamoured. But at the same time, his joy at the proposition was dampered with a feeling of dread. No matter what, his life was going to be trying in the winter months to come... rebellions were seething under Kirigakure's surface and he knew he'd be the one who was sent out to quell them. Zabuza could hold onto him with all his strength but in the end, his fate rested in the Mizukage's hands. As Yagura's popularity waned, Kisame couldn't help but think that his own missions would become more and more dangerous.

Hopefully, he could at least be content for a little while. Maybe having Zabuza at his side would make the missions bearable. And although he could never tell his comrade what it was he did, it was nice to know that the man would be there for him, holding him in the middle of the night when he awoke in a cold, post-traumatic sweat.

"Hey," Zabuza said, interrupting his turmoil of thoughts. "Let's take another shower and go to bed. I'm fuckin' exhausted."

"Yah, alright," Kisame murmured.

As Zabuza gently washed his wounds under the hot water, Kisame let his eyes drift shut. Worrying about the future was pointless. In the meantime, he was thankful that at least for now, he was happy.

X X X

He moved into Zabuza's apartment the very next day. He only had a handful of belongings so the process was surprisingly easy.

"That's cute," his landlord said gruffly as Kisame handed over the keys. "You're even dressing like him now."

"Yah, yah," Kisame replied, embarrassed. "Adorable, I know." Owning only an all-too-concealing balaclava, he'd wrapped his injured face in Zabuza's bandages. Dumb as it looked, it was better than walking around with a split lip. He absently scratched his shoulder, where the bitemarks were itching beneath his shirt. "Well, thanks for letting me live here for the past... damn, I guess it's been twelve years!" he said.

"I'll miss having you," the landlord stated, shrugging. "You're the only person in this complex who ever paid on time. And you were always so quiet!"

Kisame grinned under his bandages, thankful Zabuza had gagged him last night. "Until recently, I never had much of anyone to talk to," he confessed. Deciding he didn't want to have a mushy conversation about his relationship, he politely said his goodbyes and left, giving his old apartment one last glance. Even though he'd stayed there for over a decade, he didn't feel much sentimentality. He was glad to be out! Maybe now some other depressed bastard could move in and get shitfaced all by himself.

Zabuza's apartment really was a lot bigger than his. There were two bedrooms, a living room/kitchen, a bunch of storage space, and a pretty classy bathroom. There was even a tub! On the grand scale of fancy homes, Zabuza's place was nothing special... but compared to Kisame's, it was like a friggin mansion.

"No wonder you thought you'd get lonely here by yourself," he marveled as he put up his few possessions into one of the spacious closets. "A whole fuckin' family could live in here!"

Zabuza shrugged, glancing at him from the kitchen table, where he was reading a scroll. "It was cheaper cuz it's on the edge of town," he stated absently. "You make it sound as though I'm, I dunno, eccentric for living here."

"No, that's not what I meant," Kisame replied. "Perhaps I'm the weird one for living in such a shithole for so long."

Zabuza shrugged again and scribbled something into the scroll before promptly rolling it up. "It wasn't exactly a shithole," he muttered. "But yah, it was pretty small. At least here, there's enough space so we won't get on each other's nerves. Not like we'll both be here all the time anyway."

Kisame nodded passively. They were both officially 'back to work,' so to speak. Earlier in the day, they'd gone up to the Mizukage's office together and checked themselves back into the roster. Yagura had nodded his assent, then curtly dismissed Zabuza in order to have a private conversation with Kisame. The jinchuriki hadn't said much, other than 'how's your health,' which was a roundabout way of asking 'are you fully functional again?' The point of the privacy was mostly just to give him a bingo book. There were heads circled in it of several Kiri shinobi. 'Fuguki will meet with you this evening to give you more details,' Yagura had stated. And then he'd dismissed Kisame with a callous wave of his hand.

Back to work, indeed, Kisame thought to himself bitterly. He'd reverse-summoned the bingo book into a sealed scroll before leaving the Mizukage's office... now, he could feel the little scroll against his chest, stashed in a hidden pocket in his flak jacket. The small object felt heavy, even though it wasn't. Like a bodypart he wished he could dismember. He'd been hoping feebly that he'd have just a little more time before going back to his dirty missions... but on the contrary, it seemed as though the jobs had merely been stacking up in his absence. After all, he was the only shinobi in Kirigakure who did this kind of work.

"Something bothering you?" Zabuza asked, snapping him from his thoughts. The younger man's eyes were sharply focused on him, analyzing his expression.

"Not really," Kisame muttered. "I'm just a bit tired from moving today." When he realized that Zabuza knew he was skimming over the truth, he added, "Also, I have to go plan out a mission in a few minutes... and I'm not very thrilled about it."

"Damn, already?" Zabuza growled, riled. "Ridiculous!" But he left it at that, cursing under his breath.

"It's not a big deal," Kisame lied, itching the bitemark on his neck. "I'm alright." He kept his gaze level with Zabuza's, making sure not to let his eyes waver. I need to play these missions off like they're trivial, he told himself for the hundredth time in the past hour. I can't let Zabuza know anything. If he learns about these assassinations, his head will be circled next in my bingo book! Suddenly, the prospect of living with his comrade seemed like a terrible idea. If I care about him, I should just keep my distance, he brooded. I'm putting him in danger by letting him get so close! I can't believe I'm being so fucking selfish.

Zabuza's hands clenched into fists on the kitchen table, his face the epitome of rage. "That's bullshit," he growled. "Nothing about this is alright!"

"It's fine," Kisame replied curtly, forcing his own hands to relax at his sides. "And I told you last night, it's not your place to interfere! If you do, I swear I'll move out!"

After a tense pause, Zabuza sat back a little and snorted, a grim smile curving his lips. "Wouldn't take you long," he muttered, his gaze focused on Kisame's scant belongings piled in the closet. "And shit, I'm not trying to pry. You know how I get." He uncurled his fists in an attempt to look less angry but his hands pressed rigidly against the table conveyed just as much rage. "I just wish there was something I could do," he grated.

So do I! Kisame thought to himself. A million responses flickered through his mind but he found that none of them were appropriate. They were all pleas for help, in one form or another. So instead of speaking, he strode over to the kitchen table and pulled the bandages from his face just long enough to give Zabuza a quick kiss. The contact agitated his split lip and sent a thrill of lust shivering down his spine, but he forced himself to withdraw. The sun was setting, a queue that it was time to meet with Fuguki. He walked skittishly to the door and gave Zabuza one last glance before leaving - his comrade was scowling and biting his lip as if to prevent himself from yelling a protest.

The meeting site was a damp cellar hidden beneath the Mizukage's towering fortress. The small, utilitarian area was a stark contrast to the looming grandeur above-ground; then again, it was a perfect spot for the shady business it housed. The stained cement walls, the metal pipes that snaked through the shadowy contours, the smell of mildew and rust... everything about the place invoked a feeling of secrecy and grim intention. As Kisame entered the dimly lit space, vivid memories of past assassinations flooded his mind, along with a few other unsavory moments - Fuguki had fucked him more than once down here, taking him right on the cold cement floor. It was safe to say that he hated this damn room for a plethora of reasons.

"You're late, Kisame." Fuguki's growling voice rumbled from the shadows, startling Kisame even though he'd been expecting the man to be waiting for him. His superior stepped into the edge of a patch of light, his towering figure partially revealing itself in the flickering glow of an oil lamp.

Damn, he got even fatter, Kisame brooded, trying not to stare. Fuguki was huge, the weight making his imposing height even more intimidating. He was at least thirty pounds heavier than the last time they'd seen each other, although it was hard to be exact in the cloak of shadows. Thirty pounds? Fifty?! It took Kisame a moment to find his voice and come up with a response... finally, he muttered a formal apology, even though he wasn't late. He'd been so engrained to be respectful toward the man, saying a snide remark was almost physically impossible.

"No matter," Fuguki growled, taking a few more steps forward. "I was thinking that perhaps, you wouldn't show up at all." As he advanced, the pool of light illuminated more and more of him until he was entirely visible, his massive bulk seeming to make the room around him smaller. He looked absolutely nothing like the effeminate, alluring man Kisame used to fuck... even when he'd gained some weight toward the end of their trysts, there had still been a hint of handsome features under the pounds. Now, there was nothing but a looming henge with incongruously pretty hair.

As the man approached, Kisame fought down a random urge to bolt toward the exit, his brain nearly short-circuiting with revulsion. "I wouldn't shun my missions," he replied quietly, forcing his face to remain a solemn mask. "You know I can't."

"You've been shunning them for months," Fuguki snapped, baring his sharp teeth. "And while you were on vacation, I've been working my ass off, picking up your slack!"

Looks like you've been *sitting* on your ass, not working it off, Kisame thought to himself. But at the same time, he could see the fatigue in his mentor's narrow eyes. "I'm sorry," he murmured with partial honesty. "I had a nervous breakdown." And it was because of you, he finished silently.

"No, you sat around and got hammered," Fuguki snarled, furious. "Wallowing in self pity! You're lucky Zabuza's been protecting you... otherwise I would have beaten the pity right out of you!" The way he said 'Zabuza' was so malicious, it was as if his voice was dripping venom. Kisame found himself glaring at the floor, his guts knotted up with a mixture of anger and humiliation.

"I said I was sorry," he growled, his hands clenched into fists at his sides. "Please just give me my mission details." He pulled the scroll from his flak jacket and summoned his bingo book, hoping to change the conversation to business... he wasn't sure how much more of Fuguki's berating he could endure.

Scowling, Fuguki grabbed the book from his hands and began to flip through it. "Bitch," he muttered under his breath. "Thanks to you, the Mizukage wants my head on a platter! He blames me for everything, I swear..." His face scrunched a little as he pored through the pages - Kisame noticed small creases at the corners of his eyes and mouth, worry lines that hadn't been there before. Also, it was more than a little odd that he didn't refer to the Mizukage by his name. He and Yagura were around the same age and had basically grown up together, going through life's trials side by side. Even in the jinchuriki's presence, Fuguki addressed him casually. Kisame wasn't sure he'd ever heard the word 'Mizukage' escape his mentor's lips before. Perhaps Yagura was demanding a more formal title these days?

His thoughts dispersed when Fuguki abruptly began to tell him the mission details, his finger poised over the head of a Kiri shinobi who was, apparently, planning to usurp Yagura's reign. This is how he fights, this is his elemental nature, this is his weakness. Rote details that Kisame automatically stored in his mind, as the information for these assassinations was never written down on paper. Yet as his mind worked, he found himself sulking inwardly. A Kiri shinobi, he seethed. Right off the bat! Why couldn't it be someone from an enemy village? While he knew his anger was futile, it still bubbled up every single time he had a mission like this.

"The best time to take him down is tonight," Fuguki stated grimly as he handed back the bingo book. "According to my intel, he'll be leaving the village around midnight to meet with his conspirators. Wait for him outside the village gate, track him a ways, then kill him when he's a few miles out. I'll take care of the rest, providing false intel to the media. By the time the sun rises, all of Kiri will be convinced that Konoha had an assassin treading on our territory."

Not *all* of Kiri, Kisame thought to himself, remembering his tense encounter with Mei. Nonetheless, he nodded obediently. "I'll lay low for a while just to be safe," he said. "When shall me meet again?"

Fuguki gazed at him, a hint of anger and concern in his expression. "I'll let you know," he replied curtly. "And I can only hope you'll keep these missions to yourself. Tell me, do you still talk in your sleep?" It was obvious he was referring to Kisame's close relationship with Zabuza.

"You know I don't," Kisame muttered. When he'd first started fucking Fuguki, the older man had caught him babbling about assassinations in his sleep. The resulting training had been painful enough to quell the problem immediately... now, even when Kisame had the most gruesome nightmares, there was still a part of him that held enough awareness to keep his mouth clamped shut. It was amazing what the body could do on its own when it feared being harmed. The only side-effect was that he often awoke with a sore jaw, so fiercely did he keep it closed.

"Fine," Fuguki growled. "But I must warn you... the second you slip, I'll be forced to take the matter into my own hands. I have my eyes on you, Kisame." His narrow, brown eyes were locked on his subordinate's, grim and utterly emotionless.

He sees me as a liability, Kisame realized, forcing his eyes not to waver. I never should have let Zabuza get so close! But at the same time, he knew in his heart that he would never divulge the nature of his missions to his lover. His desire to keep Zabuza safe was even stronger than all his training combined. "I won't slip," he grated. "You know me better than that."

Fuguki finally diverted his eyes and a snort of dry laughter escaped his lips. "Honestly, Kisame," he mused. "I don't know you at all anymore." He turned and abruptly left the room before the conversation could develop any further, a hint of lithe grace still evident in his stride. Even with his extra pounds, he made no sound at all as he ascended the stairway to the door and slipped through it. An elite assassin, regardless of weight.

Alone in the dark room, Kisame spent a while embroiled in thought. The jealous asshole Zabuza had described of Fuguki wasn't nearly as apparent as he'd been expecting. It seemed as though his mentor was angrier about the danger to the missions than anything else. Perhaps the threats he'd spouted to Zabuza had been little more than a front, an attempt to dissuade the relationship from becoming dangerously intimate? And beneath it all was something even more disturbing - genuine concern. Fuguki was worried about him, in his own cold way. Even though he was overweight, perhaps referring to him as as a 'fat fucker' was a rather rude misnomer. It was hard to say what was what anymore. The interaction left him emotionally drained.

He forced his thoughts to disperse and focus on the task at hand. This cellar wasn't just a meeting site; it was also a spiderweb of tunnels that led everywhere throughout the village. Down here, he could plot his assassinations privately and travel to an exit most beneficial to his scheme. He kept his anonymous, black clothing down here as well, so that he could change into a shadow without having to worry about people seeing him in the sketchy garb. Nonetheless, his eyes darted around warily as he undressed and slipped into his gear. Every single entrance was hidden by a powerful illusion jutsu which he didn't even understand... yet he always worried that one of these days, a shinobi would acquire Byakugan and see though the veil. Kiri had recently been skirmishing with members of the Hyuga clan so the sentiment was well-founded. He kept a kunai clenched in his sharp teeth as he dressed and shifted it to his hand when he was done. One of these days, he thought, someone's going to catch on to these assassinations and barge in on this place!

With this in mind, he hid his Kiri garments and swiftly ran down a tunnel that led to the village gates. It was pitch black in these passages but he'd been through them so many times that light wasn't necessary. Once he was at the entrance, he waited patiently until it was almost midnight before slipping out of the hatch and hiding himself in the cover of a nearby tree, flattening his thin body against a branch until he looked like little more than a knot rising from the wood. He adjusted his breathing to match the swaying of the limb, curled his ink-darkened fingers against the bark, closed his eyes to slits so that only his jet-black eyelids would be visible if someone happened to gaze in his direction. It had been months since he'd completed a mission like this but he hadn't lost any of his practiced skill.

Predictably, the target left the village right on time. After that, Kisame's mind was little more than a machine, making his body creep silently through the night with terrifying efficiency. The target was a jounin with several A-Rank missions under his belt but he was completely unaware of Kisame's presence until his throat was a wet, gaping slash of red. As Kisame routinely clamped a hand over his victim's mouth to muffle his cries, his thoughts were absolutely blank. It wasn't until he was back in the safety of the cellar that reality finally hit him.

The cellar had a bathroom, luckily. Kisame found the toilet just in time to vomit, his mind reeling with revulsion. When his stomach was empty, he spent another few minutes dry-heaving until there was nothing left inside him at all, not even bile. Thoroughly spent, he slumped to the cement floor, breathing raggedly and clutching his aching midsection. This wasn't a new occurrence... he hurled violently after every single assassination, emptying his guts into this same toilet until he was too tired to hate himself anymore. Throat burning, he let his eyes drift shut. In the morning, he'd be back in control of himself... but in the meantime, there was nothing he could do other than lay in a heap on the floor. Fuguki had told him that assassins dealt with their emotional hangovers in their own way. Some imbibed in alcohol, others fucked whores, a few injected heroin. In the end, they were all forms of purging. And Kisame found it morbidly amusing that he literally purged, as if his sins lay somewhere in the depths of his stomach and he could somehow expel them. Too exhausted to ponder his dysfunctions any further, he drifted off to sleep.

X X X

"Mission?" Zabuza asked passively. It was six am and the man was seated at his kitchen table, sipping on a cup of coffee. The sun was barely rising, casting pastel shades of pink and purple through the house... the shades looked incongrously pretty on Zabuza's harsh features.

"Yah," Kisame murmured as he shed his flak jacket and hung it up on the coat rack. "Nothing much... just took a while."

"All night, apparently," Zabuza growled, his sharp eyes scanning his comrade up and down. "You look exhausted. You alright?"

"Yah, yah," Kisame muttered, grabbing a cup and pouring himself some coffee. "I'm fine." He took a seat next to Zabuza at the table and slumped back wearily in the chair. Even though he'd been training rigorously, his muscles still ached from the strenuous requirements of his assassination. Combined with the scant two hours of rest he'd allowed himself on the cellar floor, he felt pretty shitty. He took a sip of coffee, avoiding his comrade's eyes. "Fuguki got a lot fatter," he said absently. "That was the biggest surprise."

Zabuza cursed under his breath and clutched his cup of coffee. "If he laid a hand on you-"

"For crying out loud," Kisame mused, laughing inwardly at his comrade's possessive nature. "He did no such thing! Believe it or not, he was quite professional. He just seemed... stressed out."

"That's cuz he's overwhelmed with jealousy," Zabuza replied, grinning wryly. "I'm sure seeing your sexy ass in person made him realize what an idiot he was for dumping you. Did he say anything about me?"

"Not much," Kisame confessed. "Like I said, he acted professional. Although the one time he mentioned your name, it sounded as though he was spitting acid."

Zabuza leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms, his eyes glinting. "Jealousy," he repeated smugly.

Kisame snorted and sipped at his coffee, gazing at his comrade's wolfish expression with a mixture of adoration and dry amusement. "Yah, that must be it," he said, even though he knew in his heart that Fuguki's anger had nothing to do with petty jealousy. Regardless, it was better to let Zabuza think so. Plus, it was pretty sexy to see the younger man seething with his aggressive, animalistic pride.

"Since you're drinking coffee, I guess you're not planning on taking a nap," Zabuza growled, his grin widening to reveal his sharp teeth. "Wanna fuck?"

A snort of laughter escaped Kisame's lips. It seemed profane that mere hours after slitting a Kiri shinobi's throat, he should indulge in sex. But at the same time, perhaps it was what he needed. Isolating himself and 'indulging in self-pity' as Fuguki had put it would only sink him into another depression. On the flipside, perhaps it was also wrong that he should use Zabuza as a mindless distraction from his sins. Either way, he found his guilt dissipating, replacing itself with lust. He absently scratched the bite mark on his neck before wordlessly leaning over and crushing his lips against Zabuza's. The contact ran a thrill down his spine and by the time Zabuza's hand found its way to his erection, he wasn't thinking about his assassinations at all. Mindless distraction indeed!

As his mind shut down and his body took over, he realized that he was lucky to have even a moment of contentment. I should relish every second I have with him, he thought dizzily as Zabuza roughly stripped off his shirt and groped his abused chest. Because there's no saying how long this will last! One of these days, my assassinations will catch up with me... and I'll wind up either going rogue or dying. His fate seemed inevitable, sealed in his mind. And while he wasn't particularly afraid of dying, being cast from his village and wandering about alone was his biggest fear. It was far worse than death. In the meantime, all he could do was cling to what he had and appreciate that he had anything at all.

*AUTHOR'S NOTE* Yet another long-ass flashback. Yah, I'm a bit obsessed with ZabuKisa right now... can you tell? Please leave a comment if you have the time.