"I told you it might be too late," Sasori growled, leaning against a wall with his arms crossed. His doll-like face looked harsh and utterly inhuman in the sharp, lengthened shadows of the cloudless sunset. Normally, the orange-red glow of an evening like this would be beautiful... but tonight, it looked bloody and apocalyptic, as if the heavens themselves were reflecting the horrible scene that played out in this insignificant, remote bedroom.

Sasori had administered Kisame the antivenom hours earlier but it didn't seem to be working. The swordsman's breathing was still rapid and shallow and his heartbeat was even more sluggish than before, threatening to stop at any moment. Furthermore, he'd begun to cough up blood, choking on it until Sasori rolled him onto his side. He was very literally on the brink of death.

"Shut up," Deidara rasped. "I don't want to hear it." His eyes were puffy and bloodshot from crying and his hysteria had waned to a solemn, cold despair. He'd been at Kisame's side all afternoon, caring for him to the best of his abilities and intently watching his progress... but now, he just felt as though he was staring at a corpse. What made it even worse was that Samehada had begun to whimper pathetically, sensing its master's lifeforce slipping away. Even though Kisame was technically still alive, the grieving process had already begun. There wasn't anything to do but wait for the inevitable.

I need to stay positive, Deidara told himself for the millionth time. But on the flipside, he knew that being hopeful would just make the pain worse if and when Kisame's heart stopped beating. So he remained indecisive, caught between hope and grief, unsure of how to handle either.

"Damnit, Deidara," Sasori muttered, shifting edgily. "You can't sit here all night. You have to eat something."

Deidara cursed under his breath and shot the redhead a crazed glare. "You're kidding," he said dryly. "Like I could hold anything down right now. Just go away... I want to be alone."

"Okay, fine," Sasori sighed, visibly frustrated. "But you must realize that you're being fucking dramatic. Shinobi die all the time! Are you gonna act this way every time you lose someone?"

"He's not dead yet, asshole," Deidara spat. "And tell me, how exactly am I being dramatic?!" He felt a random urge to attack the redhead but remembered that his leg was broken, basically rendering him immobile.

Sasori grinned ironically as he headed to the door. "Look at yourself," he mused. "You're the epitome of fuckin' angst. You want me to give you a kunai so you can slit your wrists? Or maybe I should buy you a diary so you can go to a graveyard and write shitty poetry."

Deidara felt another urge to attack but his immobility forced him to curb his rage. "If I wrote poetry, it would be awesome," he muttered after a pause. He sighed and shook his head. "You know how I feel about Kisame," he said. "And I-"

"And you're ridiculous!" Sasori cut in, his voice sharp with anger. "You guys hooked up less than a month ago... you're wasting your emotions on someone you barely even know! And furthermore, Kisame knew what he was getting into when he entered that lab and he'd probably be ashamed that you're crying like a bitch over him. Hell, the way Kirigakure was when he lived there, they probably gouged out the eyeballs of shinobi who cried! So I dunno... fuckin' man up."

Deidara looked around for something sharp to throw at the redhead but found only the damp cloth on Kisame's forehead. Nonetheless, he grabbed it and slung it at Sasori, who scowled and dodged it easily; it hit the wall with a wet splat and fell to the floor. "Didn't I tell you to leave me the hell alone?" he growled furiously. "Go the fuck away!"

Sasori rolled his eyes with exasperation but didn't say anything more - he slipped silently through the door, leaving Deidara alone with his thoughts.

The epitome of angst, the blonde seethed. Where does he come up with this shit?! Pissed off and embarrassed, he wiped his tear-stained face with the back of his hand and muttered a curse. He just wanted to be at Kisame's side if and when he passed away... was that too much to ask? Dying alone was one of his biggest fears and he sure as hell wasn't going to let it happen to his lover. Considering the man had saved his life, it was the very least he could do. I'll give him a proper burial, he thought to himself. But I guess Sasori will have to dig the grave since my leg's broken. I'll just have to sit there like a damn grieving widow. He shook his head, appalled with himself. He's still alive, he brooded, and I'm already planning his funeral!


Kisame's flashbacks were beginning to speed up - days flew by, then months. Everything progressed in fast-forward, despite his occasional desire to slow it down. Insane sex, memorable moments, enjoyable conversations... they were all just a blur, images flitting around, scenery morphing. Somewhere in his subconscious, he knew that this hurried pace was because he was nearing death, as if his mind was now skipping over the mundane details in its haste to summarize his life. Like a movie critic scanning a film for the major plot twists. Unfortunately for Kisame, the plot twists that molded his being were horrible experiences he didn't want to relive. Just once was more than enough! But no matter how he felt about it, time slowed down right as one of his worst memories began.

It was December. Kirigakure was in the middle of one of the worst cold snaps they'd ever experienced - the signature mist had crystallized into flurries of snow and the entire town was frigid and absolutely miserable. People blamed the cold on the Mizukage, on enemy villages, on anything they could think of, seething in their crappy, ill-insulated homes until their discontent was hotter than the damp wood smouldering in their fireplaces. While a few residents actually did die of hypothermia, most of the deaths that winter were murders and suicides. Kirigakure was suffering from a massive case of cabin fever and no one was immune...

"Something the matter, Zabuza?" Kisame asked. Even though he hadn't meant for the question to sound cynical, it did. His voice was flat and his eyes were fixated on his comrade's restless, flitting fingers. Honestly, he didn't really care what was the matter with Zabuza. He just wanted the man to stop drumming his damn fingers on the kitchen table. His partner had been uncomfortably edgy and possessive in the recent months, demanding to know where Kisame was going and where he'd been at all hours of the day. 'Clingy' wasn't an accurate adjective but nonetheless, the word kept popping up in his mind.

"Yah, there is," Zabuza sneered. "I'm fuckin' pissed at you, incase you didn't notice." When he saw the direction of Kisame's gaze, he scowled and clenched his hand into a fist.

"What is it this time?" Kisame growled. "I can't fathom what I possibly could have done to piss you off today... so please, do tell."

There was a long pause during which both men just glared at each other, seething. It was sad yet not exactly surprising that after only three months under the same roof, they were getting on each other's nerves - after all, they were both mentally unstable, ruthless shinobi who'd been taught to avoid empathy like the plague. What else could one expect?

Zabuza looked absolutely furious, his sharp teeth bared in a snarl. A vein was sticking out on his forehead, pulsing with his heartbeat. "I've been dealing with this shitty rumor that's been going around about you lately," he finally grated. "And when I tried to get to the bottom of it, I found out it was true!"

Kisame suppressed a smirk. "Oh really?" he mused. "Cuz you never bothered to ask me about it. And which rumor are you even talking about?" There were a ton of rumors about him, sparked mostly out of boredom. For some reason, people thought he led a pretty wild lifestyle. For instance, there was one going around that he was a bloodthirsty maniac who made money in underground cagefights... which wasn't true at all! A few years ago, Fuguki had arranged for him to fight a Konoha ninja in some basement in the Land of Fire. No weapons, no jutsu, just man vs. man. He'd lost, terribly, and had later found out that Fuguki had bet on the Konoha shinobi. The ninja was a dork named Might Guy and, coincidentally, he was a master at Taijutsu. Needless to say, Kisame had never participated in another cagefight. It had taken him weeks to recover, both physically and financially. So that rumor was obviously total bullshit. The others were even more ridiculous - ranging from prostitution to drug addiction to bestiality. Just cuz sharks don't attack me doesn't mean I *fuck* them, he seethed. So obviously, he was curious to find out which rumor Zabuza thought was 'true.'

"I'm talking about the rumor that you fucked Mei," Zabuza growled, his eyes narrowed.

"What?" Kisame stammered, shocked. "There's a rumor about that?!" He'd been convinced all these years that Mei hadn't told a soul about their one-night-stand. With this in mind, he'd given her the same respect and hadn't even told Zabuza. It bothered him that he couldn't keep a single secret about his personal life without having it backfire.

"Yah," Zabuza grated. "So I confronted Mei about it. After berating me for about half an hour, she told me she fucked your brains out! Said you were the best sex she ever had!" He was so angry he was trembling.

"She said that?" Kisame murmured. In any other circumstance, he'd be gloating - it took him every ounce of willpower he possessed not to burst out in ironic laughter. I'm the best sex she ever had? he mused. Really?! "Well, did she bother telling you when it happened?" he asked. "Cuz it was almost two years ago!"

"So it is true," Zabuza seethed. "Why the hell didn't you tell me?! You in love with her or something?" He looked spring-loaded, as though he was preparing to leap from the table and tear Kisame to bits at any second.

"Of course not! She told me not to tell anyone," Kisame replied, bristling. "And either way, it was long before you and I hooked up! You're acting as though I cheated on you!"

"No, I'm just pissed that you're not fucking honest with me," Zabuza growled. "It makes me wonder what else you're hiding! How many women have you screwed anyway? If you've been with that slut, I can only imagine who else you've degraded yourself with!"

Kisame rubbed his temples, feeling the beginning of a headache. It doesn't matter what I say at this point, he thought. He's only gonna hear what he wants to hear. He was becoming irritated... he hated it when Zabuza backed him into a corner like this. Knowing that violence was inevitable, he decided to hurry the process. He knew Zabuza wanted him to squirm and backtrack but it just wasn't going to happen. He'd rather get a few bruises. "I'm actually not sure," he confessed, leaning back in his chair. "I lost count."

The color blanched from Zabuza's face and his eyes looked like they were going to pop out of their sockets. "You're lying," he said quietly. "You're just trying to piss me off!"

"No, I'm being honest," Kisame replied, shrugging. "I fucked a lot of women when I was younger. Blue skin's a chick magnet, what can I say? They just-"

Zabuza rose from his chair before Kisame could finish and violently overtuned the table. Plates and cups shattered loudly on the tile floor, making a mess of broken ceramic and spilled coffee. Kisame barely found time to get out of the way; now he was standing with his back against the wall, staring in shock at the wreckage. Zabuza never breaks stuff, he thought. Is he really that mad?!

"You fucking whore!" Zabuza yelled, walking barefoot through the mess of shattered kitchenware and not seeming to care that the shards were cutting his feet. "What the hell is wrong with you?!"

"Um," Kisame muttered. "I don't know, what do you want me to do? Go back and un-fuck everyone? Build me a damn time machine and I'll get right on it." He wondered briefly if Zabuza was drunk... he'd never seen the man act so utterly ridiculous. No, he's not drunk, he told himself. I think I've threatened his masculinity! He knew for a fact that Zabuza was horrible with women - some of his one-night-stands had even called rape after the fact because he was so damn aggressive. Not everyone likes being tied up and slapped around, for crying out loud! Either way, Zabuza's brain was ruled by testosterone... to be out-fucked by his passive, weird-looking lover was probably the mental equivalent of castration. Furthermore, Kisame suspected his comrade had a weird crush on Mei - he went out of his way to berate her and call her a man-eating bitch every time they crossed paths, which was his own inept way of flirting.

As the pieces fit together in Kisame's mind, he realized that this wasn't just a typical argument - it had already escalated far beyond any spats they'd had in the past. How long has Zabuza been seething about this? he wondered. All day? All week?! Regardless, he had a sinking feeling that his comrade wouldn't be content until one of them was severely injured... he could see the violent intent etched into the man's harsh features.

All these thoughts stormed through his mind in less than a second - Zabuza had barely taken two steps toward him before a conclusion was reached. One of us will get hurt, he told himself. It's up to me to decide who it's gonna be. He had no desire to be laid up in a hospital so the answer was obvious... but at the same time it wasn't. He wasn't sure if he could hurt Zabuza. Perhaps physical pain was better than the mental anguish of guilt?

"If I had a time machine, I'd go back twenty years and kill your pregnant mother," Zabuza growled, stepping closer so his face was just inches from Kisame's. "Then I wouldn't have to waste my life on a whore!"

Kisame felt anger burning within him, threatening to manifest itself at any moment. "My parents are dead," he stated tersely. "You should be respectful when you talk about them."

"Oh, shut up," Zabuza snapped. "No one in the entire Land of Water gives a fuck about your stupid dead parents so why should I? They're probably buried in a shitty mass grave along with everyone else from whatever village you came from."

"That's enough," Kisame grated. He gave Zabuza a rough shove to emphasize the fact, just short of a punch. Talking shit about one's deceased kin was a line shinobi rarely crossed - it was a dangerously sensitive subject. Does Zabuza *want* to get his ass kicked? he wondered furiously.

His thoughts dispersed when Zabuza shoved him back just as hard, baring a fierce grin full of sharp teeth. "What, you getting mad?" he taunted.

"Of course I am," Kisame snarled. "First you call me a whore, then you start berating my parents! Are you trying to get me to fight you?!"

Zabuza shrugged, a brisk movement of his shoulders. "I don't know what I want," he growled. "Part of me wants to kick you outta my house... but the rest of me wants to beat you so bad you won't even be able to crawl away."

"Is that so?" Kisame muttered, forcing himself to remain calm. "What a conundrum." He knew for a fact that Zabuza was no match for him in a fight... he could probably knock the younger man out with one hand tied behind his back. He wanted to say this outloud but held his tongue, knowing that his cold reasoning would only escalate the tension. Instead, he diverted his eyes as though he was intimidated. "Just let me leave, then," he said quietly. Anyone with a level head on their shoulders would laugh at his shitty acting but his comrade was obviously too angry to think straight.

"Fine," Zabuza snapped. "Get the fuck out." He crossed his arms and took a small step back, his eyes glinting feverishly.

Kisame repressed a frustrated sigh and glanced at the door. Any shinobi worth their salt knew to never turn their back on their enemy - it was one of the first lessons kids were taught in the ninja academy. Every cell in his body was screaming with this engrained instinct. But damnit, he's not my enemy, he reminded himself. He wouldn't attack me when my back is turned! With this in mind, he fought against his instincts and dropped his guard to walk to the door.

He'd barely taken two steps when he felt a barely discernable shift in the air. Nerves prickling, he reflexively tilted his head to evade - the small movement was just enough to avoid Zabuza's blow, which struck the side of his jaw instead of the base of his skull. Even missing its target, the impact was strong enough to knock out two of his teeth, which went flying out of his mouth with a surge of pain and a spray of blood.

Kisame experienced the attack in what felt like slow-motion, his senses heightened with shock and adrenaline to the point where he was nearly hallucinating. That would have been a lethal blow, he told himself dizzily. He was trying to kill me!

Ludicrous as it sounded, it was a fact. And before his teeth even hit the floor, he whirled around and punched Zabuza in the face, harder than he'd ever hit anyone before. The punch wasn't even a conscious decision, it was merely a reflex to a threat on his life. When Zabuza crashed into the upturned table behind him, the sound of shattering ceramic and splintering wood shocked him back to his senses. He had to blink a few times and stare dumbly at his fist before realizing what he'd done... and still, he found himself in a state of disbelief. He looked back down at Zabuza to find the man twitching spasmodically and clutching his face. Blood was pouring through his clenched fingers and a strangled, horrible sound was coming from his throat. From that sound alone, Kisame knew that he'd broken his comrade's jaw, severely.

A light-headed nausea crept over him, blurring his vision and quickening his heartrate. He took a step back, stumbling slightly. He tried to kill me, he repeated frantically in his mind... yet the fact was absolutely no consolation. How the hell did such a petty argument come to this?! Zabuza was too stunned from the punch to get to his feet - his eyes were open yet unfocused and the way he was clamping his hands over his jaw, he seemed afraid that his face would just fall apart the second he let go. Knowing the man might recover enough to attempt another attack, Kisame made his way to the door, absently shoving his feet into his sandals before letting himself out. He gave his comrade one last glance and shook his head.

"Dumbass," he muttered. "What the hell were you thinking?"

And then he left, slamming the door behind him.


Fuguki heard about the fight mere moments after it happened - the sun was just setting and people were scurrying through town on their way home from work, spreading gossip like rats spreading disease. He hated gossip more than anything so he tried to shut himself out from the talk, keeping his head bowed as he briskly made his way through the snow-dusted streets. So there was a fight. Who gives a shit! Thanks to this cold snap, there was more domestic violence in Kiri than all the great nations combined. It wasn't until he heard the names 'Kisame' and 'Zabuza' that he finally tuned into the various conversations whispering about.

"Yah, they just admitted Zabuza to the hospital. Guess he's gonna have his jaw wired shut for months! It's kinda nice knowing he won't be able to open his mouth to talk shit... but I still feel a little bad for him. He's gonna be pissed when he comes to."

"Kisame must've done it. I mean... who else could have knocked him out like that?"

"Probably had an argument about butt sex, or whatever it is gay people argue about. I'd get violent too if someone stuck their dick in my ass!"

"Poor Kisame must've finally snapped... butt-hurt, literally. I heard he's the one who's always on the recieving end, if you know what I mean."

"Yah, I heard that too. Kinda hard to believe that scary-looking bastard lets someone fuck him. Either way, it's hard to say what happened... Zabuza's KO'd and no one's even seen Kisame!"

"He's probably fucking a shark to blow off some steam."

"Oh, come on. He doesn't really fuck sharks... does he?"

"Someone told me he is a shark... like someone put a crazy jutsu on him to make him look human."

"Really? Well, that makes me wonder. You know, some sharks have two dicks..."

Fuguki rolled his eyes and tuned out, letting the ridiculous banter fade into the background. Part of him wanted to yell, 'he's not a fucking shark, you idiot! And he only has one dick!' But he held his tongue, knowing that anything he said would just fuel the rumor mill. He also knew that the second he was out of ear-shot, the conversation would gear toward him... how he's turning into his 'pufferfish' name. For all he knew, there was a rumor going around that he was a pufferfish in human form! The reality was much less dramatic - he'd been fat and petulant as a small child so the assholes at the orphanage had named him 'Fuguki.' Malnourishment paired with the strenuous requirements of being a shinobi had made him thin... but his slow metabolism was finally getting the better of him. Also, he'd quit using cocaine, which had rendered him basically annorexic during the past few years. Now that he was eating food like a normal human being, his body was freaking the fuck out, storing every last calorie in fear that it wouldn't get another.

So he was fat. Who gives a shit! The only bane was that he no longer had Kisame to screw. Guilt had finally forced him to let the poor kid go - there were only so many revolted glares he could stand before self-hatred got the better of him. Furthermore, most of his lust had been centered around the fact that boys got hard just looking at him... since that obviously no longer happened, he didn't even fuck hookers anymore. Sure, he still got horny. At lot. But he was discovering more and more these days that his hand was almost as good as a young ass. Also, it was a lot cheaper. Kisame must have a ton of dough stored up, he thought sourly. Years of hard-earned money squandered on that pretty blue body! Now he was having to do some morally questionable things to fill the hole in his pocketbook, things that stressed him out even thinking about them. Kirigakure was a miserable dive but divulging its secrets to enemy villages was a sin he knew he'd burn in hell for. I'm damned for eternity, he mused, but at least I'm not broke. That'll probably be my penance when I kick the bucket... a neverending stack of bills.

His thoughts gradually strayed from depressing introspection to the conversation he'd heard. Rumors were bullshit but they were usually spawned from a grain of truth... there was no doubt in his mind that Kisame and Zabuza had beaten each other up. It was the holes in the talk that worried him. Zabuza was in the hospital with a broken jaw but where was Kisame? Was he hurt just as bad? He knew for a fact that Kisame was a better fighter than his pretentious lover but at the same time, he was incorrigably passive. There was a good chance that he'd let Zabuza rough him up pretty bad before finally snapping.

Well, if no one's seen him, he must be at the training field, he told himself. He goes there every time he's upset... he's so predictable! It was below freezing and the frigid wind was cutting right through his robes, but he decided to endure the chill a little longer, setting his course for the fringe of town. Kisame had a mission to carry out in two days and there was no way he'd be able to do it if he was nursing an injury. The kid was terrible when it came to things like this - there was one time when he'd suffered a broken wrist for weeks, refusing to admit it until it swelled to the size of a baseball, almost past the point of recovery. To this day, it still caused him pain... Fuguki occasionally caught him wincing when he wielded his katana. He wondered what injury the punk would be hiding this time - there was no way of telling with him until the wound was too festered to conceal.

Either that or I could strip him bare and inspect him myself, he mused. Maybe suck him off while I'm at it. He forced the thought from his mind, cursing under his breath. He'd sworn off Kisame months ago but it was still hard to keep his hands to himself. Quitting Kisame had been harder than quitting coke! He still had withdrawals which no amount of masturbation could cure.

When he got to the training field, he realized that he may have gotten in over his head. Evening had rolled into night and the cloudy sky rendered the miles of wilderness below it pitch black, offering no light whatsoever to aid his search. Also, the temperature was steadily dropping to the point where it was nearly unbearable... it was difficult to concentrate between fits of miserable shivering and chattering teeth. If he's out here, he's probably freezing to death, he thought. And so will I if I stay out much longer! He had a pot of warm sake waiting for him at his house - it was hard not to turn around and make a beeline for it.

After twenty minutes of searching, he was about ready to give up. If Kisame was here, he obviously didn't want to be found - thanks to his extensive training in covert ops, he could practically turn himself invisible on a whim. The fact that Fuguki himself had engrained those very skills was morbidly amusing. This is ridiculous, he seethed. I'm just wasting my time.

"What the hell do you want?" Kisame's voice came from mere feet away; startled, Fuguki whirled around to find the punk right beside him, sitting at the gnarled base of an old oak tree with a bottle of sake clenched in his hands. In the cloak of the shadows, it was difficult to even see him - the contours of his slim body melded with that of the tree so well, it was like looking at an optical illusion.

"Jackass," Fuguki muttered, nerves prickling. "I almost slit your throat!" He emphasized the fact by revealing the kunai he'd automatically grabbed from the folds of his robe in his moment of confusion. "You know better than to startle me," he growled.

Kisame shrugged and took a slam of sake. "I've been watching you stumble around blindly this entire time," he stated. "Not my fault you're getting rusty."

Fuguki scowled, letting the remark slide with a fair amount of difficulty. "And you're getting drunk," he replied coldly. "I thought you quit."

Kisame rolled his eyes. "Why the hell do you care?" he growled. "You're the whole reason I had a problem with it in the first place, you fat fuck."

Fuguki sighed and rubbed his temples, forcing himself not to lose his temper. Kisame was probably the most obedient person on earth when he was sober but the second he got drunk, his manners always went to shit. This wasn't the first time the words 'fat fuck' had escaped his lips - Fuguki had heard the term more than once toward the end of their 'relationship.' Unfortunately, booze was a rather rude truth serum... suppressed emotions always came out after enough shots. "I walked all the way out here because I heard about your fight with Zabuza," he grated. "For once I'm being a good samaritan and this is what I get!"

"So word's already spreading through town about the fight," Kisame murmured, completely ignoring the insult he'd just spouted. "Fucking gossip." He shifted in the shadows and Fuguki noticed that he wasn't wearing a coat - just a sleeveless shirt and a worn out pair of pants. There was also a wet sheen at the corner of his mouth that was undoubtedly blood; it looked jet black in the muted moonlight. "I didn't want to hurt him," he said listlessly. "I just... reacted." He cleared his throat and spat out a gruesome mouthful of blood, which splattered onto the snow-frosted ground beside him.

"You're injured and you're obviously freezing," Fuguki bluntly stated. "Get up, I'm taking you home."

Kisame grinned viciously and took another large slam of sake. "There's no way in hell I'm going back to Zabuza's house," he sneered as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "The fucker tried to kill me! He's lucky I didn't put him the ground."

"He tried to kill you?" Fuguki echoed, his curiosity peaked. Lecherous thoughts of consoling then fucking his abused protege crowded his mind... he had a hard time keeping his hands at his sides, as if they had a mind of their own and wanted only to reach out and start groping.

"Yah, he tried the 'silent kill' on me as I was heading for the door," Kisame muttered. "If it wasn't for your training..." He trailed off and diverted his eyes.

Fuguki spent a few seconds gloating that he'd just gotten a compliment - he'd engrained Kisame with the ability to both use and forsee this infamous attack. The key was sensing the air itself, picking up on even the slightest shift in its current. Without the training, only sensory types could see through this technique... even so, it was nearly impossible to evade. He felt a surge of pride knowing that Kisame was so well trained that he'd avoided it - Zabuza was amongst Kirigakure's best in his proficiency with the silent kill. Ironically, Kisame loathed the technique. 'Once you've mastered it, it's like cheating,' he'd stated once. 'There's no fun in it.' He'd been only a day over fifteen at the time and his young, exotic body paired with his callous words had been insanely erotic. A beautiful little weapon, sharpened to perfection!

Fuguki's thoughts finally dispersed, forced away by another bone-chilling gust of wind. "We'll talk about this later," he growled. "For now, I'm taking you back to my house. You'll freeze to death if you stay out here."

Kisame scowled but eventually rose to his feet, staggering in the process and clutching the tree behind him for support. "I forgot to grab a coat," he muttered. "Now I'm too hammered to feel the cold." When he took a step forward, he stumbled and went crashing back to the ground.

"For crying out loud," Fuguki sighed. "Here, just hold onto me." He grabbed the younger man's wrist and yanked him upright, slinging his arm over his shoulder for support.

"Shit," Kisame gasped, wincing. "That's my bad wrist you grabbed!"

"Shut up and move your legs," Fuguki growled. "And give me a shot of sake... it's the least you can do!"

They walked back into town mostly in silence, solemnly passing the bottle of sake back and forth, tripping occasionally on a patch of ice. The only words uttered between them were muttered curses directed at the cold - Kisame was finally feeling the chill and Fuguki was too miserable even to think horny thoughts, barely registering the fact that the younger man was whorishly clinging to him to keep his balance, practically groping him in his effort to remain on his feet. Luckily, the freezing weather had emptied the streets from nosey onlookers - the few people they passed were too bent on getting out of the cold to even glance their way.

When they finally entered Fuguki's house, the warmth was so relieving it was almost narcotic. Unlike most of the idiots in Kirigakure, Fuguki had been smart enough to stockpile wood and keep it dry so he always had a fire going. He'd been through a cold snap just as bad as this one when he was a child and he'd never forget how badly he had suffered in that damn orphanage. Shivering on his cot amidst a bunch of crying, frostbitten kids, he'd told himself 'never again!' - it was one of the few inner promises he'd managed to keep over the years.

He helped Kisame to a couch by the hearth and lit a nearby oil lamp so he could get a better look at him. The punk's lips were dark blue and his eyes were dull from a combination of cold and drunkeness. Blood was leaking steadily from the side of his mouth, running down his face and soaking his shirt - booze was a bloodthinner and it was obviously making the injury worse, whatever it was. The only evidence of a wound was a bit of swelling in the right side of his face. He gave Kisame a stern look that said 'explain.'

"I don't even know what happened," the younger man muttered, diverting his half-lidded eyes from the glare. "Zabuza was pissed off that I've fucked more women than he has, I think. I've never seen him so angry."

Fuguki clicked his tongue and poured himself a cup of warm sake from the kettle on the hearth. "Does this have anything to do with the rumor that you screwed Mei?" he asked after taking a sip.

"Seriously?" Kisame snarled. "Even you know about that?!"

"I try to mind my own business," Fuguki replied. "But I can't help what I overhear. Either way, I'm more interested in your injury than your lovers' spat."

"Oh," Kisame murmured, touching his mouth and staring dumbly at the blood that coated his fingertips when he pulled his hand away. "I dodged his stupid silent kill but it still caught the side of my face," he explained. "Knocked out a few teeth. It's not a big deal... they'll grow back."

Fuguki rolled his eyes, embarrassed by the idiotic comment. "Teeth don't grow back," he hissed. "Are you dense?"

Kisame shrugged. "Mine do," he stated. "I thought you knew. I've been punched in the face so many times I wouldn't have any damn teeth at all if they didn't! You saw me after that ridiculous cage fight."

Fuguki reflected on the fight - Kisame's face had looked like a punching bag and several of his teeth had been knocked out, revealing ugly gaps every time he opened his mouth. "You told me you saw a dentist," he said, letting a bit of incredulousness seep into his voice.

Kisame shrugged again and leaned back in the couch. "I guess I lied," he confessed. "There's enough rumors going on about how I'm part shark without people knowing I grow back my fucking teeth."

"Bullshit," Fuguki growled. "I don't believe you. You probably just shed your baby teeth late or something."

"Man, you must think I'm retarded," Kisame muttered irritably. "But honestly, I couldn't care less whether you believe me. Fact of the matter is, I'll have a full set of teeth again in a few days... so call it what you want."

Fuguki cursed under his breath and took another drink of sake before setting down the cup. "Fine," he relented. "I'll believe it when I see it. But in the meantime, you need to put some gauze in your mouth to slow the bleeding." He walked over to a cabinet and pulled out a kit of medical supplies which he kept around almost solely for Kisame - thanks to Samehada's healing ability, he rarely needed to use them on himself. He probably wouldn't have any supplies at all if it wasn't for the younger man's constant array of injuries. Lacerations, puncture wounds, concussions, burns... he'd seen them all!

When he returned to the couch with a wad of gauze, he found Kisame messily finishing off his bottle of sake, his head thrown back and his slender throat bobbing with each swallow. He'd become quite muscular in the recent months - his body was still lithe but it had a powerful look to it now that, at least in Fuguki's opinion, was even more erotic than before. "Damnit, I never should have let you go," he muttered under his breath.

"What was that?" Kisame asked sluggishly when the bottle was empty. Sake was running down his chin, mingling with blood.

"I said you're a fucking mess," Fuguki growled. "Here, put this in your mouth." He handed over the wad of gauze and rolled his eyes when the younger man shot him a sheepish look.

"I think that's the first time you've ever said that without refering to your dick," Kisame mused. A wry grin slid over his lips before he quickly inserted the gauze, packing it between his molars.

"Don't worry," Fuguki grumbled. "Unlike your partner, blood turns me off."

Kisame blushed and shook his head. "Don't tell me there's a rumor about that, too," he slurred, his words muffled by the gauze.

"I have no idea," Fuguki stated bluntly. "I just know about the cases women have filed against Zabuza in the past. Apparently, he has a thing for biting."

"Yah, yah," Kisame sighed. "Believe me, I know all about it." His eyes drifted shut with contemplation and he absently scratched the crook of his shoulder. "I'm beginning to think more and more these days that he's fucking insane," he muttered.

"I don't know about that," Fuguki said, leaning against the wall by the hearth. "Men are jealous and violent by nature. You and I are just exceptions to the rules." He gestured passively, a half-hearted wave of his hand. "Not everyone has the benefit of being raised in that fucking orphanage," he mused. "Thanks to all the abuse and neglect, I think we're incapable of feeling emotions like regular human beings."

Kisame smirked and opened his eyes to narrow slits. "Slow down on the booze," he said. "You're starting to sound dramatic."

Fuguki laughed despite himself. "That's a bit hypocritical," he replied. "And also, you should clean yourself up before you even think about passing out on my couch. You're covered in blood, incase you didn't notice."

"I actually did notice," Kisame said, looking down at his blood-soaked shirt. "But whaddya want me to do? Take a shower? I obviously don't have a change of clothes." The expression on his face was a combination of curiosity and hostility, as if he was pondering the implications of 'cleaning up' with mixed feelings. For good reason, he had his doubts about undressing anywhere near Fuguki, even in the privacy of a bathroom - in the past, most of their trysts had started with a shower and a bottle of sake. Get drunk, bathe, fuck, blow lines and fuck some more. To this day, just the taste of sake reminded Fuguki of ravaging his protege's body! He could only assume that the same was true for Kisame.

"Don't sweat it," he muttered as he poured himself another cup of sake. "I still have some of your old clothes around here somewhere." He downed his sake in one gulp and walked to a hallway closet, where he found a few of the younger man's shirts and pants. "It's a bit of a conundrum that you even left them here," he added as he grabbed the garments. "Did you leave here naked? Or perhaps you stole some of my clothes." He returned to the living room and slung the apparel into Kisame's lap.

"I did acquire some pretty stylin' clothing from you," Kisame mused. "I got dressed all hammered a few times, too blitzed to know what I was putting on." A lopsided grin slid across his lips. "I have a badass pair of your 'seven swordsmen' pants that I wear from time to time," he admitted. "I must confess, they look damn good on me."

"I knew it," Fuguki growled. "Fuckin' thief." He scowled when Kisame shot him a dry look that said, 'not like they'd fit you anyway.' They used to have about the same waist size - it was absurd to think that less than a year ago, he'd been just as slim as Kisame. Now, his insane height combined with his weight made him feel utterly monstrous, belittling everyone around him. But to be honest, sometimes it was a good feeling. He rather enjoyed the looks of disgust he recieved from the women who'd doggedly tried to fuck him all his adult life - vapid bitches bent on screwing a member of the infamous Seven Swordsmen, despite his constant confessions that he was flat-out gay. He'd tried and tried to deter them, berating them in public when they flirted with him, even going so far as to roughly shove them away, hard enough to qualify as battery. Yet nothing he did had ever put a dent in their whorish determination. Now that he was fat, it was finally over. His stupid recurring nightmares of being forced to put his dick in a greasy, revolting cunt had ceased, too.

Unfortunately, being in Kisame's presence reminded him of what he'd lost when he'd let himself go. He felt a yearning to bury himself in cocaine for a few months, just long enough to become thin again. Just long enough to get down Kisame's pants, feel that alien-smooth skin against his. But the paranoia of coke paired with his recent sins of selling Kiri's secrets would undoubtedy drive him insane - he could see himself peering through his shutters, afraid to leave his house, utterly convinced that the entire shinobi world was outside his door, ready to punish him for his crimes. These dillusions had begun right before he'd quit... he'd started to see things that weren't there, shinobi spying on his every move, preparing to strike the second he let his guard down. Even Kisame had noticed the change in him, un-enthusiastically searching for Fuguki's imaginary stalkers and assuring him that no one was there as if he was consoling a child having a nightmare. Realizing that he was losing his grasp on reality, Fuguki had quit... unfortunately, the side-effects of sobriety had been just as bad, if not worse, than the side-effects of coke. What was worse? Being a paranoid freak or a disgusting fatass? Both options sucked, especially because Kisame was on neither end of the spectrum. And now here he was, alone and relatively miserable, wishing he could somehow go back in time to reverse all the shitty choices that had led him to this state of physical and moral decline. If I had a time machine, I wouldn't even know where to start, he brooded. I've been a piece of shit my entire life!

His elaborate train of thought dispersed when Kisame sluggishly rose from the couch and plodded to the bathroom. "I'm locking the door," he slurred, giving his superior a suspicious glare. "I don't want you spying on me."

Fuguki suppressed a smirk. "Seriously?" he mused. "Have a little trust."

Kisame rolled his eyes and briskly shut the bathroom door, making sure to lock the bolt loud enough for all to hear.

"Fuckin' prude," Fuguki muttered under his breath. He would have been half-insane with frustration if he wasn't so tired - as it was, he was just anxious to go to bed and forget this night ever happened. He knew his chances of hooking up with Kisame were nill... even though the punk was wasted and emotionally vulnerable. Okay, so the chances weren't exactly nill. But either way, he was reluctant to take advantage of his protege's susceptible state. For all he knew, the boy would wake up hungover in the morning with a sore ass and slaughter him in his sleep! People were killed for pettier things.

On the subject of petty murders, Fuguki's thoughts drifted to Zabuza and his silent kill attempt. He was mildly suprised that the man would take an argument so far... yet he wasn't exactly shocked. Zabuza was the textbook definition of an alpha male - aggressive, dominant, prideful, ambitious. In short, he carried all the traits of an abusive prick, especially when it came to heated disputes. Fuguki had witnessed this first-hand, when Zabuza and Kisame had officially begun to 'date,' or whatever you wanted to call it. When he'd politely asked the man how Kisame was faring, he'd been assaulted by a barrage of shouting, taunts and threats. The disrespect had been irritating, to say the least. He couldn't remember what his exact response had been but it was something along the lines of 'one more word and I'll put you in your grave.' Since then, every interaction they had was tense and bordering on violence. Fuguki even found himself acting like an alpha male from time to time around the man, his latent humanity roiling to the surface in the form of testosterone-fueled rage.

God, Zabuza was so maddening! Like an itch he couldn't scratch. It would be so easy to kill the fucker, too... just blot him from the face of the earth. A poisoned kunai in the back, a senbon through the neck, even a skull-shattering punch in the face. With his political sway, he'd get away with it without so much as a night in jail! Indeed, it was tempting... but it was little more than a pipe-dream. Zabuza being a rotting, worm-infested corpse would bring him no closer to Kisame. In fact, it would probably drive him away even further, if that was possible.

Annoyed by his own thoughts, he poured the last of his warm sake into his glass and sat down on the couch. He usually avoided such musings but having Kisame so near set his mind on overdrive. Alternate realities, what could have been. He couldn't help but envision a parallel universe where instead of using his protege as a whore, he'd acted like a gentleman. No coke, no booze, no monetary bribes. Buy the punk a diamond ring or something. Take the fantasy back even further and he never would have gotten involved in the hooker industry to begin with. Instead of fucking for money as a teenager, this parallel Fuguki would earn an honest living through his early years, leaving his mind untainted, able to get a hard-on without the engrained instinct that sex was something you paid for. Kisame thought he was pervert for buying hookers... and sure, he was. But he was little more than a product of his environment. Once a whore, always a whore, whether you were the one doling out the cash or recieving it. Just like his instincts to kill had been enforced by the ninja academy, his instincts to be a debaucherous piece of shit had been hammered into him by Kirigakure's dark side. Here he was in his thirties and he was just barely realizing that sex was supposed to be an intimate, sacred act, shared between two people who loved each other. Who knew? To him, it had always just been a service, like waiting tables or tending bar. Do a good job and maybe you'll get a tip.

It also hadn't occured to him until recently that perhaps his callous way of viewing sex had emotionally scarred poor Kisame, that maybe he'd destroyed the kid's innocence. Seriously, the thought had never crossed his mind! Prostitution was such a mundane reality of his life that he still had a hard time imagining how it could be traumatizing. He'd started working at a brothel around the same time he'd hit puberty - he and his equally young coworkers had always joked about how it was a pain in the ass. But it was just a way to make a living... nothing more, nothing less. And honestly, he'd never felt any incongruity between being a prostitute and being a shinobi. In both professions, you were no more than a tool. If he'd been traumatized by selling his body, he wasn't aware of it. Then again, the years he'd spent miring himself in drugs, booze and every debauchery known to man had probably drowned out any pent-up trauma he might have had. If he was emotionally scarred, only the most adept mind-reader would ever be able to know, because he had no idea himself. Am I traumatized? What a pointless question!

He could analyze himself for all of eternity with no fruition... the same vague answers would keep returning. I'm a product of my environment. I can't change the past. It was fucking stupid that he would let himself wander in such a direction - introspection was probably the most pointless thing a shinobi could attempt, especially one whose life had gone down the tubes. Pointless, pointless!

When he heard Kisame unlock the bathroom door, he inwardly sighed with relief. Talking to his shitfaced protege was a big step up from delving into his own ugly mind. He looked over to find the younger man stumbling out of the bathroom amidst a haze of steam, wearing the clean clothes he'd been given - a ragged, distressed wifebeater and an equally worn pair of jounin-issue pants. The threadbare garments clung tightly to his lithe, muscular form, revealing every detail of his body as if he were naked. The taut contours of his washboard abs, the seductive curve of his lean hips, the graceful flow of his neck and shoulders... it was such a perfect sight that Fuguki had to look away in fear of getting an out-of-place erection. Thanks to the abnormally large size of his cock, he had more self-control over his lust than the average man, as even a half-hearted boner tented his pants like a damn flagpole. But his restraints flew out the window when Kisame was involved... over the years, he'd battled numerous spontaneous erections in the younger man's presence, excusing himself from training rounds to masturbate. Much of these dick-taming sessions had happened long before Kisame turned eighteen - his naive protege had just assumed the frequent leaves were to take a piss. All for the better! The fact that watching innocent, underage Kisame handle a katana was hornier than looking at porn was not something he ever wanted to confess.

And tonight's no different, he brooded crossly, focusing his lecherous gaze on the flames in the hearth. Kisame would run away screaming if he knew I was still horny for him! Out of all the secrets he kept about his life, this was the one he had the hardest time with.

His thoughts evaporated when Kisame flopped down next to him on the couch. "What're you so deep in thought about?" the younger man slurred. "You pondering the meaning of life or something?" It sounded as though he'd already taken the gauze out of his mouth... hopefully he wasn't still bleeding like a stuck pig.

"Something like that," Fuguki muttered, intently keeping his gaze on the fire. "Although I don't advise it. Life's fucking meaningless." He could feel Kisame's warmth beside him, prickling his senses almost like skin-on-skin contact. "Did you forget that there's other places to sit in this house?" he growled.

"What, am I grossing you out or something?" Kisame mused. "I'm aware of the fact that you only screw younger men... I didn't know you wouldn't even sit next to a fuckin' adult."

Fuguki cupped his chin in his hand to conceal an ironic grin. "Well, it's nice that after all these years, you still respect me," he replied sardonically. "You know, I've heard 'pedophile' and 'fat fuck' escape your lips more times than I can count. Any other superior would've beaten you senseless for your foul mouth!"

"Okay, so instead of beating me senseless, you fucked me senseless," Kisame countered quickly, a hint of amusement in his tone.

Fuguki finally diverted his eyes from the fire to shoot his protege a dry glare. "Don't give me that," he muttered. "You enjoyed it." Once his gaze was focused on Kisame, he found that he couldn't look away. The younger man was sprawled out next to him, his arms draped lazily over the back of the couch. It took him a minute to realize that Kisame was toying with a stray lock of his auburn hair, twisting it absently around his forefinger. "What the hell are doing?" he snapped, unsure of whether he was shocked, aroused or enfuriated.

Kisame blinked and stopped his toying as if he hadn't been aware of it. "Who knows," he murmured with an apathetic shrug. "I guess I was noticing that you still have pretty hair." He scoffed and scooted further away on the couch, apparently disgusted with himself. "Don't take it as flirting," he stated gruffly. "Cuz your hair's all you got going for you these days."

"For crying outloud," Fuguki sighed, exasperated. "You're the worst drunk I've ever met." He pondered rising from the couch but his dick convinced him to stay in the slim chance it would get some attention. When Kisame was hammered, he was as unpredictable as he was rude - there was a minute probablility that he'd forget his mentor was repulsive, just long enough to offer himself up for a fuck. It had been that way toward the end of their trysts... sometimes Kisame would be colder than a block of ice, only to melt down seconds later into a weird inferno of lust. He was a crazy, bipolar brat when he was drunk, the exact opposite of the obedient drone he was when sober.

"Hey," Kisame growled, shifting edgily on the couch. "You got any more booze? I'm fuckin' thirsty."

"If you're thirsty, you should drink water," Fuguki replied sourly. "You're even more of a dick when you're hungover than when you're drunk. I have no desire to wake up in the morning to find you puking your guts out in my bathroom."

"I'm gonna be hungover no matter what," Kisame stated. "And you know I don't like to half-ass things. So come on, let's get fuckin' hammered! It'll be like the old days... minus the fucking. And the..." he trailed off for a moment, seemingly deep in thought. "You wanna get some coke?" he finally said. "I'll buy."

"No," Fuguki growled, his voice flat. "I quit! Why the hell do you think I gained so much weight?"

Kisame grinned wryly. "I thought it was the same reason all people get fat," he replied. "You sit on your ass all day and eat too much food."

"Yah, well you're wrong," Fuguki snarled. "Fuckin' brat." He narrowed his eyes at the younger man. "And I could still kick your ass any day of the week," he added.

Kisame laughed, his eyes glinting. "You sure about that?" he taunted. "It's been a while since we sparred and I think that maybe the tables have turned."

"In your dreams," Fuguki muttered. But the thought distressed him, especially because there was a chance it was true. If it ever came down to a fight to the death, who would come out the victor? While Fuguki still diligently trained, there was no doubt that Kisame was racking up some serious experience with his recent load of missions. Furthermore, Samehada had become next to useless as of late, sullenly disobeying his commands on a whim. He kept it strapped to his back mostly as a sign of power, hoping he wouldn't have to actually use it in fear that it would decide to stab his hand the second he grabbed its hilt. He knew the reason, too - it had already chosen its next master. But he wasn't ready to give the weapon over to Kisame just yet. The symbolism of such an act, stepping down from the ranks of the Seven Swordsmen. No way! Especially not when the successor in question called him a fat fuck the second he consumed a drop of sake! He'd rather hold onto a useless sword that drew his blood on a regular basis.

Kisame sighed and shifted again, his eyes becoming dull with boredom. "You're no fun anymore," he bluntly stated. "You suck at holding a conversation even more than I do."

"I have a lot on my mind," Fuguki sighed. "Give me a break. And also, I've never been fun." He rose from the couch and grabbed another bottle of sake from a cabinet in the kitchen, impatiently uncorking it with his teeth. He'd pondered his inadequacies long enough tonight - suddenly, he wanted nothing more than to drown his thoughts in more alcohol. Hangover be damned! He leaned against the kitchen counter and took a big slam, relishing in the numbness that would inevitably ensue.

"Alright, I digress," Kisame muttered from the couch. "You're the most bitter human being that ever lived. Now can I please have some of that sake before you hog it all?"

Fuguki growled an obscenity and stuck out his middle finger. "If you can't even ask me politely, you're not getting shit," he stated. He scowled and rolled his eyes when he noticed that the younger man was scratching the crook of his neck for the millionth time in the past hour. It was annoying as hell, reminding him of the nervous ticks people got when they used coke. "Stop that," he growled. "It's really starting to bug me."

Kisame looked confused for a moment before realizing the direction of his mentor's gaze... he dropped his hand with an equally annoyed frown. "While I appreciate your hospitality, I'm not too keen on getting picked apart by your stupid pet peeves," he grumbled. "I'm just scratching a damn itch, for crying out loud."

"Must be a pretty bad itch," Fuguki dryly responded. "Because you seem intent on scratching your skin off." He tuned out from Kisame's rude rebuddle with another slam of sake, letting his eyes focus in on the crook of the kid's shoulder. The spot looked sore and slightly swollen, as if it was infected. Another injury? he wondered as he lowered the bottle from his lips. I bet he's been hiding it under those high collared shirts he always wears. Still ignoring his protege's insults, he derisively walked behind the couch and leaned in to examine the mark.

"Hey," Kisame griped, twisting in the couch to shoot his mentor a glare. "What the hell are you doing?"

"Shut up and sit still," Fuguki commanded, using the same stern voice he employed when giving mission orders. Kisame clicked his tongue but complied, his years of engrained subservience forcing him to obey. Despite the debaucherous trysts the two had shared, their rigid roles as superior and underling still held fast - the right words spoken in the correct tone rarely failed to put Kisame in his place, regardless of how drunk he was. Fuguki relished in this fact as he leaned in again and took another look at the mark. It was a bruised, jagged ring of swollen punture wounds, festering and fringed in dark purple... there were scars of a similar nature overlapping it, as though the same injury had been inflicted over and over throughout a long period of time. He knew what it was immediately and nearly lost his temper - he had to go through a calming exercise before even attempting to speak, taking deep, controlled breaths to slow his heartrate. When his blood was no longer boiling with rage, he stated, "that's from Zabuza." It wasn't even a question. There was no uncertainty in his mind.

Kisame shrugged, still looking straight ahead with a blank expression on his face. "None of your damn business is what that is," he muttered. "Now back off." He tried to cover the mark with his hand but froze when Fuguki briskly cuffed his jaw, right where Zabuza had hit him earlier - it wasn't hard enough to worsen the injury but there was no doubt that it caused pain.

"I told you to sit still," he hissed. "You're acting like a child."

Kisame rubbed his sore jaw, miffed. "And you're acting like an asshole," he growled.

"No, your idiotic boyfriend's the asshole," Fuguki snapped. "And so are you for letting him do this! Haven't you even noticed that you have a serious infection? Let this go for a few more days and you'll be laid up in a fucking hospital with an IV in your arm!"

"You're exaggerating," Kisame murmured. "Don't try to scare me... you know it doesn't work."

Fuguki sighed and rubbed his temples, resisting the urge to beat the shit out of his protege for being such a stubborn, insolent bastard. "I'm not trying to scare you," he sighed. "I'm just stating a very obvious fact. The human mouth is a bacterial cesspool... your horrific bite-mark is a prime example."

"That's some weird logic," Kisame mused. "It means you've spent immense amounts of cash to get your dick sucked by a cesspool." He turned his head so Fuguki could see his profile and lewdly flicked his tongue.

The older man sighed yet again and took a step away from the couch, nearly wincing in his effort to keep his cock under control. The sight of Kisame's slick, pink tongue feigning oral sex stabbed at his lust like an icepick. "Did you study anything in the ninja academy?" he grated as he willed his dick into submission. "Human mouths aren't harmful whatsoever unless an open wound is involved - the germs obviously can't penetrate the skin. If they could, people wouldn't even dare to kiss each other!"

A humorless, vicious smirk played over Kisame's lips. "If I was your superior, I'd smack you for talking to me like I'm stupid," he said coldly. "But since it's the other way around, I can only hope that you won't insult my intelligence any further. I know bites cause infections... I just don't happen to give a fuck."

Fuguki spent a brief moment mulling his protege's retort over in his mind... he'd forgotten that the kid could be so piercing and articulate when he was drunk. "Well, I give a fuck," he finally replied. "You have a mission coming up the day after tomorrow... we'll both be reprimanded if you fail because of such a ridiculous injury." He headed over to the first-aid kit once more, handing Kisame the bottle of sake in the process. "And I wasn't implying that you're stupid," he added. "You're just irresponsible."

Kisame shrugged and took a drink of sake, passively watching his mentor rummage through the kit. For some reason, he seemed to be content with the title of 'irresponsible,' although it was also possible that he was placated simply because he had more booze.

Fuguki returned to his spot behind the couch with a roll of gauze and a bottle of antiseptic. "I won't tell you to hold still again," he warned.

"Yah, yah," Kisame muttered. "Just get it over with." He took another slam of sake then crossed his arms, his muscles tense.

After applying the antiseptic to the gauze, Fuguki found himself hesitating. He hadn't had physical contact with his protege in several months and wasn't sure if he could handle it without losing his damn mind. Even the dull act of cleaning a wound might snap his self-control in two. Nonetheless, he didn't have much of a choice... he'd been the one to say something about this stupid bitemark so now he had to follow through. He bit down on his tongue and focused on the pain as he carefully began to dab the wound with the gauze, trying to prevent his fingertips from actually touching flesh.

Kisame growled a curse and squirmed a little from the contact. "That's fucking cold," he hissed.

"Don't be such a pussy," Fuguki replied, his voice coming out softer than he'd intended. When he tried to press the gauze more firmly against the punctures, the younger man flinched and squirmed again. Before he could stop himself, he sternly grabbed his protege's shoulder with his free hand to hold him still. The contact sent a thrill down his spine that manifested itself in a very slight shiver. He never thought he'd forget how smooth that blue skin was but the feel of it against his palm was a much more divine sensation than he remembered. It was like polished marble... if marble was warm, seductive and pliant. Dizzily, he bit down on his tongue again and focused on the task at hand, forcing his hands not to tremble as he continued to clean the wound. Damnit, I'm barely touching him and I'm swooning like a school girl, he thought bitterly. Pathetic!

When he reluctantly looked down at Kisame's face, he was stunned by what he saw. The younger man's eyes were half-lidded yet feverishly bright and his gill-patterned cheeks had turned a shade of violet. He was breathing quickly and biting his lip, his fevered gaze focused intently on the bottle of sake clenched in his hand. The look was painfully familiar but Fuguki had a hard time realizing what it was - it took him a few moments to decipher it as the shy 'fuck me' expression the boy always got before a voracious round of sex. Even then, he found himself flatly refusing to believe that his protege was turned on. That look... it must be for some other reason, he brooded as he mechanically tended to the wound. Maybe he's just really pissed off. But anger didn't usually cause people to blush and bite their lip.

A fragment of a long-past conversation fluttered through his mind, vivid like deja vu. 'You have rougher hands than anyone I know,' Kisame had moaned, impaling himself on his mentor's fingers during one of their very first trysts. 'It's like being groped by sandpaper.' The younger man had been oddly turned on by his calloused hands, begging for their attention. Back then, simply depriving Kisame from his touch had been a form of torture, reducing the punk to a frustrated, horny mess.

Fuck, he cursed inwardly, his mind reeling. There's no way in hell he still gets turned on by my hands, let alone *any* part of me. Absolutely no way in hell! He repeated the sentence to himself over and over as he briskly, almost angrily scrubbed at the punctures. Absolutely no way in hell!

"Ouch," Kisame gasped, wincing. "What the fuck are you doing back there?" His voice sounded weak and his eyes remained intently focused on the bottle of sake in his lap. He seemed to be afraid to divert his gaze even for a second as if in fear of accidentally shooting his mentor a wanton glare.

"It's infected because it's dirty," Fuguki growled. "So I'm cleaning it." Experimentally, he let his hand shift slightly on the younger man's shoulder, his fingertips dragging over the skin a fraction of an inch. Kisame breathed a barely audible curse in response and the blush on his cheeks deepened to magenta. A minute shiver caused the downy hairs at the nape of his neck to stand on end. "I don't know why you're being such a bitch," Fuguki mused, goosebumps raising up on his own skin.

"I'm not being a bitch," Kisame murmured, his voice little more than a whisper. "You're just-" Another small movement of his superior's calloused fingers froze him in mid-sentence as though he'd been shocked with a jolt of raiton.

"Just what?" Fuguki meekly inquired, doing his best to sound innocent.

"You're just torturing me!" Kisame panted. "Jackass!"

"You've got to be kidding," Fuguki replied in the same innocent tone. "I've tended to wounds far worse than this one and you never said a word!" Emboldened, he smirked and gave Kisame's shoulder a rough squeeze - something akin to ecstasy washed over him when the brat squirmed and feebly adjusted his pants in an attempt to conceal his stiffening cock.

I'll be damned, he marveled, elated. He really *is* turned on. A hard dick was a pretty obvious sign of lust, no two ways about it. His own cock had also sprung to life, swelled to its full twelve inches despite the restraining fabric of his pants. He was grateful to be standing where he was, his lower half hidden from his protege's view by the back of the couch.

An immeasurable amount of time passed, punctuated only by a vapid exchange of taunts and curses as he continued to torture the boy under the guise of medical attention. A few seconds? An hour? It was impossible to say. All he knew was that Kisame was drawing nearer and nearer to some sort of impulsive reaction... his gorgeous cock was rock-hard and his muscles were coiled tight like springs. He seemed torn between fucking, fighting and fleeing.

Finally, Kisame quit staring at the bottle of sake - he turned his head and let Fuguki's gaze lock on his. "Stop teasing me," he grated. "You know it drives me crazy." His wild, predatory glare reminded the older man of a starved animal seeing its first meal in weeks. Desperate, ravenous, half-mad with anticipation. Those exotic eyes could convey a feral intensity that no other human on the face of the planet could possibly match. When the intensity was fueled by intent to kill, the result was utterly terrifying... but when fueled by lust, it was a look Fuguki would sell his fucking soul for.

Bring me the devil so I can sign the contract, he mused as he drank in his protege's glare. But despite his elation, he forced himself to stay composed. "If you're suggesting what I think you are, you know you'll regret it in the morning," he heard himself say. His actions stole the meaning from his words as he dropped the wad of gauze and slid his hand over to Kisame's right shoulder so that he was gripping both arms just above the sensitive gill marks.

"Come on now," the younger man breathed raggedly. "Since when do you give a shit about my feelings? And either way, aren't I a bit old for your taste?"

"You have that sentence backwards," Fuguki growled as he sank his fingertips down to the gill marks and lightly caressed them, causing his protege to cry out and arch his back. "You haven't been attracted to me in ages."

Kisame clicked his tongue and mustered a scowl. "You don't know that," he said. "You're the one who ended our relationship, remember?"

Fuguki almost laughed. "Yah, I remember," he mused. The way Kisame said 'relationship' made it sound as though their debaucherous trysts had been something more than sex-for-money transactions. It was ridiculous yet sadly charming. "But either way, it was very apparent that you weren't into me anymore," he stated, his fingers stroking his protege's gills in the same way he might tease a cock. "I don't know how you could possibly think there was any mystery about it. You were extremely blatant about your distaste... calling me all kinds of things..."

For a moment, Kisame didn't appear as though he'd even been listening - his eyes had drifted shut and the way he was melting into the couch made it look like he was getting a blow job. His gill marks were different than any pleasure point on a normal human being... if they were stimulated with enough skill, he could cum without even touching his cock. It was bizarre that he often walked around in sleeveless shirts - what if someone came up to him and touched his shoulder during a casual conversation? Would he get a random erection? Would he cum in his pants? Fuguki had wondered about this to an obsessive degree, finally deciding that his protege must have some control over the sensations. But... what if an enemy learned about this sexy weakness and exploited it in battle? The result would undoubtedly be something you'd find amidst the pages of poorly written erotica. 'Make-out Tactics' for gay dudes.

Eventually, the boy's eyes opened to narrow slits. "Well," he murmured, "it's not my fault you got fat." He shifted restlessly on the couch, arching into his mentor's touch. "I mean... what the fuck, Fuguki," he sighed. "You were the hottest guy on the face of the planet... you shoulda just stayed that way!"

Fuguki laughed and harshly dug his fingertips into the gill marks, making the younger man wince and moan a curse. "Well, what do you want me to do?" he mused. "Go back in time and starve myself?" He shrugged. "I don't think it would work anyway," he stated. "I was doomed to be fat from the start. My mother was obese... so I think it's a genetic thing."

Kisame's eyes widened in surprise. "You knew your mother?" he asked. "You never told me that!"

"Nah, I didn't really know her," Fuguki admitted, his hands ceasing their flirting as he tried to recount the old memory. "I was only three when she abandoned me. All I remember about her was that she was fat and abusive. Dramatic as it sounds, it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. She was just typical Kiri white trash, popping out kids, too lazy to support them. Unfortunately, she died of a heart attack before I was old enough to seek her out." He grinned and shook his head. "It was probably all for the better," he muttered. "Cuz I just wanted to find her and beat the crap outta her. Dumb, selfish bitch."

"Damn... I bet that's why you hate women, huh," Kisame ventured, his curiosity peaked.

"Who knows," Fuguki stated. Part of him wanted to go on a rant about how all women were disgusting, self-centered demons but he held his tongue, knowing that his protege respected (and even screwed) members of the opposite sex. The last thing he wanted to do was end this marvelous scene by offending Kisame - the boy's cock was still rock-hard, as if learning information about his mentor was just as erotic as foreplay. As far as Fuguki could recall, he'd never divulged anything personal to the boy before. He'd always kept their conversations cold and professional.

"But what about your father?" Kisame pried, undaunted by the older man's silence.

"No idea," Fuguki replied, surprised that his pathetic origin was so interesting to his protege. "I've been told that my mother was a slut... so he could be anyone."

"That really sucks," Kisame said, a barely discernable hint of sympathy in his voice. "If I thought my father might still be alive, I bet I'd roam the edges of the earth looking for him." He laughed and shrugged. "Although if I saw another guy with my appearance, I'd probably faint from the shock." Grinning, he reached up and covered one of Fuguki's hands with his own, pressing it against his shoulder. "You know, I think this is the first time you've actually talked to me about shit," he mused. "And yah, I know that sounds gay."

"Well, we're both pretty damn gay," Fuguki chuckled, reveling in the feel of Kisame's hand against his. "So I guess 'talking' was inevitable." The younger man's palms and fingertips were also calloused, rugged from years of rigorous training. When his protege lightly massaged his wrist, he had to bite his lip to stifle a moan.

"I've always wondered about my parents," Kisame sighed, leaning his head back onto the couch so he could look straight up at the older man looming above him. "I don't even know what fucking village I came from."

Fuguki watched in mild disbelief as the boy guided his hand down to the sculpted planes of his chest. "I don't know either," he replied raggedly. "I was just a kid when you were brought here." He was going to go on about the mystery surrounding Kisame's past - how no one at all seemed to know where the fuck he'd come from - but his train of thought escaped him. It was difficult to think about anything while pinching his protege's hard nipple through his shirt... the only sentiment running through his mind was does he want to fuck? Does he seriously want to fuck?!

The answer seemed obvious... but at the same time it wasn't. Kisame was hammered. This one simple fact was the only thing preventing him from pinning the boy down and taking him right there on the couch. He could envision the morning with painful clarity - both of them miserable and hungover, Kisame nearly suicidal with regret. A half-drunk argument would ensue about who's fault it was and Fuguki's defense that 'you wanted it' would just go in one ear and out the other. In the end? Kisame would hate him even more than before.

The blame would never end! Fuguki could see days, months, even years during which Kisame would seeth and call him a rapist. A lifetime of misery just over this one stupid night.

"Okay," he muttered aloud. "The answer is obvious." With a willpower he never even knew he possessed, he wrenched his hand from Kisame's grasp and took a few steps away from the couch. The younger man immediately bolted upright and twisted around to shoot his mentor a stunned, furious glare, the sudden movement causing him to slosh a considerable amount of sake onto his lap.

"Fuguki... what the hell?!" he slurred, seemingly unable to put his frustration into better words.

Fuguki pinched the bridge of his nose and winced, so flustered he felt like he was going to keel over. "What the hell indeed," he grated. "You have no idea what you're doing right now!"

"I knew it," Kisame growled as if he hadn't heard a single word the older man had said. "I'm too fuckin' old for you!" The complaint was accompanied by a wild gesture that spilled even more sake.

"Yah, sure," the older man replied sarcastically. "That explains why I have a painful erection right now." He scowled and retreated another step, afraid that the boy would pull him back in like a magnet. "I'm going to bed," he stated. "And don't bother following me... I'm locking the door!" With that said, he abruptly turned and walked away, forcing himself to ignore his protege's drunken response, which was something in between an insult and a plea.

Once inside his bedroom, he laid down and glared at the ceiling, his heart pounding in his chest. Even though he was drunk, he didn't sleep a wink - he just kept staring at the same crack in the ceiling until the sun rose.


Kisame awoke to the most vicious hangover he'd ever had in his life - his head felt like it was being squeezed by a vice, his mouth was so parched he couldn't even swallow, and his eyes refused to work, seeing nothing but blurred double images. For several minutes he drifted in and out of consciousness, refusing to fully awaken the booze-drenched wreck that composed his body.

Finally, his maddening thirst forced him into action. He slowly rose to a sitting position, nearly fainting from his wretched migraine. The pain was so severe it was even accompanied by sound - a high-pitched wail as though a klaxon was blaring in his brain. If he had a kunai, he'd be tempted to slit his own throat. Death would be a relief compared to this hell he'd brought upon himself.

"Here, drink this," growled a rough voice. "It's water mixed with sake." A glass was shoved into his hand - he drank the contents without even wondering who the fuck was standing in front of him. It wasn't until his vision cleared up that he realized it was Fuguki. His superior was scowling, his auburn hair sticking out in disheveled spikes... he looked as hungover as Kisame felt. A bit more looking around verified that this was indeed Fuguki's house - the old-world furniture and decorations always made him feel as though he'd stepped into a time machine.

Why he was here, he had no idea. Nor did he give a shit at the moment. "Give me more," he muttered hoarsely, shoving the glass back at his superior.

"Fine," Fuguki growled, grudgingly moving to pour him some more of the concoction. "But you'd better not puke it up."

"Ugh," Kisame groaned. "Don't even talk about vomit right now." His guts felt like someone had tied them into knots and there was an ache in his side that was probably his liver.

It wasn't until he'd drank down two more glasses of the water/sake blend along with a bunch of aspirin that he began to feel even remotely coherent. "Hair of the dog is something Zabuza never understood," he mused, almost to himself.

"Zabuza's still in the hospital," Fuguki bluntly stated, crossing his arms. "You should get your shit out of his house while you can. I'm sure he'll rip it all to shreds the second he gets the chance."

"Uh... shit," Kisame murmured. "Now I remember." The events of the previous evening flooded back to him - his ridiculous fight with Zabuza, storming out and immediately buying sake, drinking half of it at the training field then the rest here with Fuguki. After that, his mind drew a blank. Must've blacked out, he told himself. I wonder if I did anything stupid. Judging by the way his mentor was glaring at him, the answer was 'yes.'

"You hit on me, incase you forgot," Fuguki grated as though reading his thoughts. "You're lucky you don't have a sore ass."

"Oh god," Kisame groaned, mortified. "Please tell me you're joking."

"I've never told a joke in my life," the older man curtly responded. He looked more angry than Kisame had ever seen him - up until now, the closest the man had ever come to showing rage was a mild look of irritation.

"Well shit, I'm sorry," Kisame said, bristling. "Don't beat me up over it... it'll definitely make me puke."

Fuguki sighed and rubbed his temples as if forcing himself to stay calm. "For crying out loud, I'm not going to beat you up," he growled. "I'm just frustrated and hungover as hell. I didn't sleep at all, thanks to you."

"What, was I snoring or something?" Kisame asked.

"Nah," Fuguki sighed. "You were just... nearby. I haven't gotten laid in..." He trailed off, dismissing the confession with a shrug. "You almost turned me into a sex offender," he muttered under his breath.

"What, you aren't one already?" Kisame joked. He was going to sling a few more insults but held his tongue when he saw the expression his superior's face. The guy looked like he was on the verge of commiting said crime in a very sadistic manner. Nerves prickling, he rose from the couch and stumbled a few steps toward the door. "Hey, I said I was sorry," he growled. "Quit glaring at me like that."

Fuguki pointed accusingly at the door. "Get the fuck outta my house," he snarled, "before I rape you senseless!"

Kisame rolled his eyes and let himself out before the threat could develop any further. What the hell, he thought to himself, crossing his bare arms in a pathetic attempt to brave off the cold. Drama, everywhere I turn! He'd had no idea his superior was still attracted to him... the realization changed a lot of things and forced him to ponder the possibility that maybe he'd been dumped out of guilt. Empathy, from a man like him, he seethed. Ridiculous! He shivered and plodded to Zabuza's house, his booze-muddled mind feebly trying to grasp an understanding. Fuguki was the least empathetic person he'd ever met... the asshole would probably slit his own throat before doing something percieved as kind.

No matter, he brooded. I have more important things to worry about. His old apartment had already been rented out so he wasn't sure where the hell he was going to stay once he got his belongings from Zabuza's house. If it were any other season, he'd probably just set up a tent on the fringes of town and rough it for a while. Unfortunately, the cold forced him to think of another option. Sure, he had enough money for a hotel... but they were extremely expensive this time of year and he really didn't want to squander his cash. As for apartments? They were probably all occupied. During the winter, people from poverty-stricken villages flocked to Kiri for its relative warmth and safety. Since the enforced peace of Yagura's reign, more and more broke assholes stayed here at their convenience, begging for change and squeezing into cheap efficiencies like canned sardines. The result was a sluggish economy and an increased crime rate. More importantly, there was nowhere to fuckin' stay.

Well, there's no way in hell I'm going to make amends with Zabuza, he told himself. Bastard tried to murder me! He still couldn't comprehend the reason or the result of their argument. And maybe it was his wretched hangover but he didn't feel any emotion whatsoever about the ordeal. As he neared his comrade's house, he forced himself to feel something, anything... but he could conjure little more than a vague irritation.

He was surprised to find Mei waiting for him outside Zabuza's house. She was bundled head to toe in typical Kiri winter gear - flak jacket, long-sleeved shirt, a headband that covered her ears. The concealing clothing made her look like an angrodgenous elf.

"What are you doing here?" he growled, bracing himself for a fight and unsure why. There was no doubt that she could kick his ass to hell and back right now - he was too hungover to even walk straight. Either way, her presence riled him even more than his fight with Zabuza. She was the reason for all of this! He felt his temperature rising as rage cut into his senses.

Mei took a wary step back, apparently intimidated by him even though he wasn't a threat in his half-drunk state. "Kisame..." she said haltingly. "I'm just here because I want to apologize. I heard about..." She gestured vaguely in the direction of the hospital, an uncertain expression on her face.

Kisame shrugged and pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling his awful headache threatening to return. "Don't apologize," he muttered. "I'm too blitzed to give a shit right now." He grinned even though he didn't find the situation amusing. "Although I am curious as to why you told my comrade I was the best sex you ever had," he ventured. "I figured I was mediocre at best."

A blush darkened Mei's cheeks and for a minute she just worked her jaw as though none of the words she wanted to say made the cut for a spoken response. Finally she narrowed her eyes and scowled. "Are you drunk?" she snapped accusingly.

Kisame's grin widened and he laughed genuinely. "Avoiding the subject, eh?" he mused. "Fine." He walked past her, enjoying the way she shyly recoiled, and glanced in Zabuza's window. The living room was exactly the way he'd left it - cups and plates shattered everywhere, table upturned, blood splattered on the hardwood floor. "He's still in the hospital then," he muttered under his breath.

"Yah," Mei said, creeping up next to him to peer into the window. "I just visited him... he's so drugged up he can't even stay awake."

Kisame laughed again despite himself. "A broken jaw doesn't justify being drugged up," he said. "I bet they sedated him cuz he's acting ridiculous. Punching medics in the face, breaking shit."

A tiny smirk curved Mei's lips. "That's a possibility," she replied. "He's pretty pissed off."

"I bet," Kisame said. A fitful gust of wind caused him to curse and shiver violently. "Well, I'm going inside to gather up all my shit," he stated, teeth clenched. "You wanna come in?"

Mei scowled but when Kisame opened the door, she quickly slipped inside. He followed closely behind and locked the bolt, edgy even though he knew Zabuza was passed out several blocks away. That silent kill... how close it had been! He had no fear of being murdered - it was the fate of most shinobi - but dying over something so fucking stupid would most certainly leave his soul in a state of unrest. Eternal irritation... he couldn't think of anything worse.

"Wow," Mei said, shrugging off her flak jacket. "Looks like a crime scene in here."

Kisame glared at her for a moment before making his way over to the fireplace. "It is a crime scene," he growled. "If Zabuza decides to press charges." There were still hot coals from last night and after tossing on a few logs of pine, the flames were roaring again. He rubbed his arms and spent a moment kneeling before the fire until his teeth finally stopped chattering. "Either way, he was the one who started it," he muttered. "He's lucky he got away with a broken jaw."

Mei shot him a look that demanded an explanation. Kisame grinned and explained.

"A silent kill, over that?" she marveled. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!" She was blushing even harder than before and biting her lip. A fight over her? It was undoubtedly stroking her already enlarged ego. Maybe that was the whole reason she came here... just to hear how awesome she was from first-hand experience.

"Don't worry about it," Kisame said as he rose to his feet. "Zabuza has a thing for you... but believe me, you're just another one-night stand to me. I've fucked so many women, it's hard to even distinguish you from the rest." He gloated at the horrified expression on her face as he strode to the kitchen cabinet and pulled out a bottle of sake. It was Zabuza's stash - the jackass was allowed to drink because he didn't have a 'problem.' He uncorked the bottle with his teeth and took a slam, keeping his hard gaze fixed on Mei as she practiced a calming exercise, a barely noticeable regulation of her breath.

"Zabuza has a thing for me?" she finally asked to deter her obvious humiliation. "I thought he went gay."

"He's as gay as I am," Kisame responded dryly. "He only fucks what's convenient. I owed him a debt and..." he gestured at the house enclosing them, "...this is what happened. But you, the way he talks about you... it's like you're some possession he can never obtain. You know how he is with women." He wondered at his own words, which had spilled from his lips before he could stop them. I owed him a debt for helping me recover, he told himself. Is that why I put up with his bullshit for so long? Hitting me, leaving me tied up all the time like I'm some piece of furniture. He had no idea what a normal relationship was supposed to be like but he had a feeling that whatever he'd been doing with Zabuza for the past three months was far from normal. In some ways, it was even worse than his time with Fuguki. Aside from the occasional backhand during training, Fuguki had only struck him once, whereas Zabuza had hit him so many times in both anger and lust that he was literally scarred, his body riddled with bruises and bitemarks.

Mei took a few steps towards him so that they were close enough to kiss. "All I know about Zabuza is that he has a thing for biting," she said. "Just like you." She reached up and grazed the crook of his neck, where his infected bitemark was bared for all to see.

Shit, he thought, shivering involuntarily from her touch. I forgot I was wearing this damn wifebeater. He'd purposely been wearing high-collared jounin shirts for the past few months, solely to hide this very wound. Months of effort for nothing, he brooded sourly. He barely noticed when Mei snatched the bottle from his hand and took a large drink, her graceful neck bobbing with each swallow.

"Gimme that," he grated, roughly prying away the sake. "And stop acting like such a slut."

Mei laughed lightly, dismissing the insult, and pressed her body up against his. "Kisame, I think you're the slut," she mused. "Letting Zabuza fuck you over a debt?" She shifted her leg slightly so that her thigh was pressing into his groin, rubbing over his cock. "Sounds like prostitution," she chided.

"Damnit, woman," Kisame seethed. "It wasn't like that! And either way, it's none of your business!"

"That's fine," Mei said softly. "I don't care anyway." She tightened her hold on his bitemark, making him groan and bite his lip. "This whole thing is actually your fault," she stated, her voice becoming more severe. "All those bites you gave me... Ao saw them and made me confess." Ao was a morbid fucker in his mid-twenties who followed Mei around like a dog, perhaps hoping that if he was loyal enough, she'd throw him a bone. Also, he'd recently been copying Kisame's 'shark fin' hairstyle, using copious amounts of gel to make his thin hair do what Kisame's just did on its own.

Kisame clicked his tongue. So that's why he's been copying me, he thought. He thinks it'll get him laid. How pathetic! "I thought you came here to apologize to me," he grated, shooting Mei an annoyed glare. "Fuckin' harpy bitch-" His words left him when Mei dug her long nails into his punctures, almost hard enough to draw blood. When he caught his breath, he cursed and managed a grin. "And we were both trained as shinobi not to confess our secrets," he said dryly. "You probably just felt the need to brag. It's not like I'm the only guy around here with sharp teeth."

Mei's grip loosened slightly as his words sunk in. "Fine," she confessed. "I did have a choice in what I said. But still... who else could I have blamed? Zabuza's got enough rape cases on his head as it is, and Fuguki..." She shook her head. "He wouldn't touch a woman with a ten foot pole." All the other members of the Seven Swordsmen were dead - Mangetsu most recently from a violent battle in the Land of Earth.

For some reason, the words 'Fuguki' and 'touch' ignited Kisame's memories of last night - suddenly he recalled how his superior's hands alone had made his cock ache. Those calloused fingers had played him like an instrument, just the slightest graze eliciting a moan and a pang of lust. The memory sent a weird thrill down his spine. His hands... he thought. Just his hands!

Mei mistook his glazed over expression as lust for her - she twined her fingers around the nape of his neck and pulled him in for a kiss, managing to slip in her tongue before he snapped out of his stupor and jerked his head away.

"Damnit, Mei," he growled, wiping his mouth and scowling at the lipstick that came off onto his hand. "My damn boyfriend tried to kill me last night and you're hitting on me?! Have a little tact!"

Mei took her hands off him before he could shove her away, a furious expression on her face. Kisame was absolutely certain that no man had turned her down before - she could hit on a dead guy and he'd come back to life just to get down her pants. "Whatever," she snapped. "You taste like a distillery anyway."

"Sorry," Kisame said sarcastically. "I wasn't expecting to kiss anyone this morning. Especially not you!" He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Look, I gotta pack up my shit before Zabuza storms in here," he stated. "I don't even know why I let you in! If he finds you in here with me..." He trailed off and shook his head. More drama and violence, he finished inwardly. Lava spewing everywhere, blood spilling. Fuck that. An out-of-place grin slid over his lips as he stalked over to the door and opened it, gesturing for her to leave just like he'd done before their one-night stand. "Come on," he prodded. "Get outta here."

Mei composed herself and brushed at her flak jacket as if he'd somehow gotten it dirty. "Fine," she said, following his lead. "But there was one more thing I wanted to ask you."

Kisame merely shrugged. "Make it quick," he said.

"Do you have anywhere to stay?" she inquired.

This made Kisame blink a few times. "I'll figure something out," he replied. "Now go, you're letting in all the cold air."

Mei turned to face him and smirked. "You don't have anywhere, do you?" she chided. "Well here." She took his hand and pressed something small against his palm. Kisame glanced down and saw that it was a key. "I know you're a ghost when you want to be," she said. "And I wouldn't mind it if you haunted my house for a while." Before he could protest, she lightly trailed a finger down his chest and left, disappearing quickly into the ice-cold mist.

For a while, he just stood there like an idiot, gaping at the key in his hand. This is a key to her house, he told himself blandly. Why would she give me this?! He felt an impulse to throw the key out or give it to a random creep but instead, he slipped it into his pocket. Not like I'll use it, he brooded as he turned back into the house and closed the door behind him. I'll just throw it out later.


He left Zabuza's house with little more than a backpack full of things. Plates and cups, pots and pans, his few sparse items of furniture... it all remained behind. Maybe Zabuza would have some fun smashing them to pieces when he came to. He had no need for them anyway. What would he do? Drag everything around in a cart? Mei was right when she'd said that he had nowhere to stay... there wasn't a single apartment for rent and the few hotels with vacancies had their prices so marked up that even his decent amount of cash would be gone within a week. While he avoided politics like the plague, it bothered the hell out of him that business owners took advantage of hard times like this cold snap. Couldn't they quit their capitalist greed for one second?! It was a useless sentiment. He could seethe about it all day and it wouldn't change a thing.

The absence of places to rent left him with very few options. There was always Fuguki's house... but after finding out his senpai was still attracted to him, going back there would just seem like an invitation to fuck. And while he was absolutely certain said fuck would make him cum like a geyser (his hands, just his hands!), the older man's haggard appearance would no doubt leave him filled with self-loathing. He knew that it was a shallow sentiment. Looks are fleeting! But nonetheless, it wouldn't change his inevitable reaction. He felt a strange bond with Fuguki, only strengthened by their shitty ups and downs, and it would be horrible to ruin it all over a pathetic dispute about aesthetics.

Fuguki: "But the sex was good!"

Kisame: "I don't care! Lose some fucking weight!"

So that obviously wasn't an option.

Which left Zabuza. It was possible that Kisame could come groveling back to his comrade, begging to continue the disaster that had become of their relationship. The humiliation, the abuse, the unreasonable jealousy... he could simply ask for it all back. 'I'm sorry, it was all my fault,' he could say. 'Please, I'll make it up to you.' But as trained as he was in the art of deception, he knew that he wouldn't be able to utter those words. It wasn't it fault! And he was sick of being treated like a battered wife! He'd rather impale himself on his own katana than be dragged into that cycle again.

The whole situation was just... pathetic. Zabuza was the first person who'd ever showed empathy towards him... and his empathy had been genuine. Recieving such love and attention had been so euphoric that Kisame had submitted to it immediately. Someone acknowledges me, he'd thought. Someone cares about me! And damnit, a man as beautiful as him. He'd often found himself gloating that it was a dream come true, imagining them spending the rest of their days together in bliss. A house with a yard, some pets, maybe an adopted kid from that wretched orphange. And a kiss that would keep its meaning and thrill throughout the years.

Now that three measely months had passed, Kisame's naive dillusions of love had dissipated. It wasn't even as though his heart was broken... it had merely atrophied. Reality was a bitch and there was no such thing as a soul mate - this was the lesson he took away from it.

With both Zabuza and Fuguki ruled out, he ended up sleeping in the basement he used for his covert ops, laying out his bedroll next to the furnace. Unfornutately, the sketchy location granted him little rest - he often awoke in a post-traumatic sweat, his memories of all the horrible things he'd done amplified as though the place was haunted. His disastrous mission with the cypher core squad came back to him most frequently... out of all the crimes he'd commited, that was surely the one that guaranteed him a place in hell. The fact that there was nothing else he could have done was no consolation whatsoever. His hands were soiled with innocent blood!

Over a week passed before he finally considered using the key to Mei's house... it was still sitting in his pocket, even though he'd sworn to himself he'd throw it out. As much as he disliked the way she acted around him, she was still hot as hell - it was almost impossible to pass up such an opporunity. Plus, he was sick of trying to bathe with just the small basement sink. Mei's house was enourmous - an actual mansion - so he was sure she'd have a pretty sweet shower. Selling his body in return for commodities? It sounded absolutely awful but out of all the perverts in Kiri, Mei was by far the most attractive. He supposed he shouldn't be upset about it... most men would kill for such an opportunity.

So he used the key. Things turned out exactly as he expected - Mei would let him sleep over and use her utilities in exchange for sex. She was so damn predictable. Her long red hair paired with her callous attitude even made him feel as though he was screwing a young, female version of Fuguki. He often found himself wondering if perhaps the two shared a relative somewhere down the family tree - it wasn't implausible. Kiri was a perverted town... people fucked one another out of sheer boredom, spreading around DNA and disease. More and more orphans these days were being admitted to the ninja academy because they possessed kekkai genkai that was supposed to be exclusive to clans. He wouldn't be surprised at all if Kiri came across another village's jutsu in this manner - acquiring sharingan or some such formidable ability solely because the shinobi here were a bunch of slutty breeders.

And he was really no different. When he was fucking Mei, his primitive instinct to pass on his genetic material was close to overwhelming. He'd keep his cock inside her right up until he came, envisioning her belly swollen with his child. Between her kekkai genkai and his massive amount of chakra, their kid would be fucking awesome. A future Mizukage! But he kept these sentiments to himself, of course. Mei wouldn't even let him stay over past dawn in fear that someone would see him leave her house - there was no way in hell she'd want to have a kid with him. The second she missed a period, she'd probably rip the poor thing out with a coat hanger! Either way, banging her without getting her pregnant made him feel weirdly sterile, like little more than a living sex toy. The fact that she treated him like an exotic pet didn't help matters... she often had a glint in her eye that suggested she would like to put a damn collar on his neck and keep him in a cage. She even told him to 'sit' once! What would be next? Lay down? Roll over? Beg?! His ability to tolerate other people's bullshit put him in such stupid situations.

December passed into January... the days just rolled by, none of them very remarkable. The only thing worth remembering was Fuguki's reaction upon seeing his molars once they'd grown back in. The man's narrow eyes had widened and his jaw had dropped - he'd poked his finger in Kisame's mouth and felt the new teeth without even the slightest hint of perverted intent. Just... awed wonderment. "Christ, Kisame," he'd gasped. "You are so damn mysterious!" It gave Kisame a strange satisfaction knowing that his superior found him intriguing in ways unrelated to sex. It felt like respect, which was something he didn't recieve very often. After that, the older man was less reserved about his curiousity. He'd ask Kisame if he remembered anything about the village he was born in - sights, smells, anything at all. Unfortunately his inquiries were left unanswered... Kisame's mind predictably drew a blank. After all, he'd been just an infant when he was brought to Kiri.

Aside from that, his interactions with people were pretty ridiculous. Mei kept treating him like a dumb animal and the few times he ran into Zabuza, the man was utterly hysterical. One second he'd apologize, the next he'd spout scalding insults, his words muffled by his wired-shut jaw as though he was constantly grinding his teeth with rage. Slut, whore, bastard, hooker, bitch, asshole, cunt. Every insult in the book. Kisame would accept the slander with his usual passive attitude, feeling vague irritation mixed with pity. How did this happen to him? he'd wonder. Did I make him this way? The strong man he used to know had turned into an insane, violent wreck, sometimes too unstable to even carry out missions. It was the saddest, most pathetic thing he'd ever seen and he was helpless to mend it.

The cold snap relentlessly continued as did Kirigakure's cabin fever. People got drunk and fought each other in the streets, suicides skyrocketed, robberies were at an all-time high. Kisame drifted through the troubling times like a ghost. Not having a home made him feel more detached than ever, as if reality was just a weird ether he floated in. He found himself thinking even less than usual... some days he shut down his mind entirely and watched his body moving around on autopilot. Fuck, kill, eat, sleep, repeat. Why should a weapon have a brain? If he could live without it, he'd probably open up his skull and rip it out. Unfortunately, it was a necessary organ so he had to endure the few emotions it produced. Irritation, guilt, loneliness. And over it all was a sense of loss that he was unable to pinpoint. A loss of purpose, perhaps? Or maybe just a loss of self. He wasn't sure. Either way, there was something terrible happening inside him, a rift that kept growing wider and wider with the passage of time.

By February, he wasn't even sure who or what he was anymore. The only person who noticed was Fuguki - the older man would awkwardly ask him if he was okay then sigh with frustration when he didn't recieve an answer. I'm not okay, Kisame would think. I'm not... *anything.* A listless shrug was the only response he was ever able to conjure.

He had become so disjointed and numb that his emotions actually shocked him when he was called to Yagura's office one mid-February afternoon. He almost never saw the Mizukage face to face and the summons filled him with a sense of foreboding. Ascending the winding stairs of the huge old building, his heart pounded in his chest and his head felt light. Anxiety, he thought to himself, swallowing a lump in his throat. Haven't felt that in a while. It was strangely reassuring, knowing his heart could still race.

Yagura looked even duller than usual - his gray eyes were hazed over and his youthful features were utterly expressionless. Kisame resisted an urge to poke him, just to make sure it wasn't a doll sitting there behind the oak desk.

"It's been a while, Kisame," the man said flatly. "Have a seat." He gestured at the chair in front of the desk.

Heart still pounding, Kisame had a difficult time making himself sit. "Why did you summon me?" he asked, trying not to sound as nervous as he felt. "Fuguki always gives me my orders."

The dead expression on Yagura's face didn't change. "It's actually about Fuguki," he stated. "He's been selling information to enemy villages, a crime punishable by death."

For a minute, Kisame was unable to grasp the words. They kept fluttering around nonsensically in his mind and he had to force himself to piece them back together. He'd been expecting a bit more small talk before getting to the subject matter... and he had not been expecting this to be the topic. "No way..." he finally said, his head spinning. "...There's no way that's true... I don't believe you..."

"That's what I thought you'd say," Yagura replied blandly. "So I'll show you the proof." He shifted in his chair and pressed a button on a black box. The face of the box started moving - Kisame leaned forward and gaped stupidly at the little people who appeared to be trapped inside.

"Is this a genjutsu?" he asked warily, his nerves prickling. Before he could stop himself, he got up and cautiously tapped the box. The surface was glass and the people behind it went about their business, no matter how hard he tapped.

"Sit back down," Yagura hissed, his vacant expression twisting into a scowl. "It's a damn television. Mainland technology. You've seriously never heard of it?"

Kisame numbly shook his head as he sat himself back down. He was still convinced that it was some sort of genjutsu even though Yagura had just told him otherwise. "I have no idea what I'm looking at," he muttered. His eyes wouldn't focus on the thing - his gaze kept sliding off to the side.

It took Yagura almost twenty minutes to explain the device to him and by the time Kisame finally reached a vague understanding, he felt drained and irritated. It's not my fault I've never heard of it before, he thought crossly. He'd been stunned the first time he'd seen a lightbulb too, and that humming icebox Mei called a refrigerator. Who wouldn't be? Mainland technology was frightening black magic. Some day they'll make a mechanical assassin, he brooded. And I'll be out of a job!

"Damnit, Kisame," Yagura growled. "Pay attention to the screen!"

With considerable effort, Kisame forced his eyes to focus on the moving images. The scene was a small, dimly lit room, containing two people who appeared to be talking to each other. There was no sound. After some more squinting, he eventually recognized the taller person as Fuguki and the other was unmistakeably Ibiki Morino, the captain of Konoha's torture and interrogation squad who had caused the whole cypher core disaster.

"Ibiki," he said aloud, his blood running cold. "Why's he talking to that bastard?!"

"Just watch," Yagura sighed.

The two men talked for a while and even though there was no sound, Kisame was able to pick up bits and pieces of the conversation by reading their lips.

"... Hoshigaki slaughtered an entire squad to prevent these codes from leaking..."

"... I know what happened... I gave him the orders..."

"... that's cold... even for you, Fuguki."

"Oh god," Kisame gasped, his vision blurring. His muscles tensed and goosebumps raised up on his skin. When he saw Fuguki trade a scroll for a big roll of cash, he felt something within him snap. For a minute, he couldn't even breathe. "This isn't happening," he said, his voice hoarse and weak, barely over a whisper.

"No, it already happened," Yagura growled. "And he's been doing it for a while. This is just the first time I've actually caught him in the act. He's sold codes and black ops identities to Iwa and Kumo as well."

"Oh god," Kisame said again. His hands felt wet - he looked down to find his fists oozing blood from where his nails had dug into his palms.

"You're the only one I've told about this," Yagura continued, not seeming to notice or care that the man in front of him was having a mental breakdown. "And I want it to stay that way. News like this can cause mass panic in a population so it needs to be handled with utmost caution."

Somehow, Kisame managed a weak nod. He tried to swallow in a dry throat, his gaze fixated on his bleeding clenched fists. "What do you want me to do?" he rasped, even though he already knew the answer.

A humorless grin slid over Yagura's lips. "I want you to take care of it," he stated. "Your job as a Kirigakure assassin is to eliminate threats to the village... and it's obvious that Fuguki has become a threat."

"So you want me to..." Kisame trailed off and closed his eyes. He felt like he might faint. After months of feeling so numb, his tolerance for emotions had waned, just like his tolerance for booze had diminished during his time with Zabuza. He had to take himself through a long calming exercise before he could even finish his sentence. "You want me to kill him," he finally said, his eyes still closed. "But Fuguki is too well known. He can't just... disappear."

"He can and he will," Yagura curtly replied. "And once he's little more than ash in the basement's incinerator, I'll release the truth about his crimes. You'll be in the clear."

Kisame opened his eyes and glanced briefly at Yagura. Ash in the basement's incinerator, he wondered incredulously. Is that how you talk about someone who's been your comrade all your life? Don't you feel anything at all?! Perhaps Fuguki had good reason to no longer call the man by his name... whether it was the stress of being an unpopular Mizukage or something more sinister, there was no semblance of humanity left within the jinchuriki. "There must be another way," he said quietly. "Imprisonment or-"

"Are you questioning me, Kisame?" Yagura snapped, harshly cutting him off. "I just gave you an order! Now obey it!" He leaned back in his chair and rubbed his temples as though he had a headache. "I already set things up," he continued in a calmer voice. "I told him to meet with you two nights from now for a mission, the details of which I fabricated. He won't be expecting an attack, especially not from you. I want you to use a trap and get it over with quietly... it would be a disaster if you two battled each other to the point where people heard the noise and discovered that basement's existance. Even I wouldn't be able to cover it up."

Kisame scowled and shook his head, unable to hide his distress. "Why did you set this up before consulting me?" he growled. "Did you just assume I'd be okay with it?" He forced his hands to unclench and glared down at the bloody indents in his palm. "It doesn't matter whether or not you can cover it up," he breathed. "I can't kill him. I refuse."

Yagura's eyes narrowed and surprisingly, he smiled. The smile almost looked gentle on his youthful face. "That's why I value you as an assassin," he mused. "You have morals, even in this situation. You probably wouldn't kill a fly unless you were ordered to, would you?" The smile Kisame had mistook for empathy hardened into a fear-inducing leer. "You can refuse if you like," he continued. "But if you do, I'll take him down myself... and I won't be kind. It's been a while since Kiri had a public execution and I think it might boost morale. I'll announce him as a traitor and make a show of torturing him... perhaps I'll rip his pretty hair out of his skull before beheading him." He leaned forward and rested his elbows on the desk, steepling his fingers to hide his horrible grin. "So yes, you have a choice. What would you prefer?"

Before he could stop himself, Kisame rose violently from his chair and slammed his hands on the desk, glaring down fiercely at the Mizukage. "Maybe I'd prefer to murder you here and now," he hissed. "A man like you doesn't deserve to rule this village!" He'd never fought a jinchuriki before but from what he'd heard, their formidable chakra was loosely based on the number of their biju's tails. Only three tails' worth, he thought heatedly. I bet I have more than that!

Yagura didn't move a muscle and his smile seemed to be frozen on his face. "When is the last time you saw a war?" he asked calmly.

Kisame cursed under his breath, his muscles so rigid it hurt. "What does that have to do with anything?" he grated. He'd seen a war when he was still living at the orphanage... all he remembered about it was a lot of fire and screaming. Kiri's population had been cut by a third over those few days and the only reason he'd survived was because no one, not even enemies, gave a shit about orphans.

"It has to do with everything," Yagura insisted. "Since I became Mizukage, there hasn't been a single war. Our village hasn't come under attack in over a decade! And do you want to know why?" He looked up at Kisame as if expecting a response. After a few seconds of tense silence, he continued. "It's because I rule Kiri with an iron fist," he growled. "I enforce peace, no matter what the cost. Ever since becoming a Kage, my only goal has been to protect this village! And as a result?" He shook his head and his grin faded slightly, giving him a sad, wistful appearance. "I'm hated, Kisame. I'm viewed as a tyrant. But like all shinobi, I know that self-sacrifice is necessary. My reputation doesn't matter a bit. And peace is a difficult thing to enforce... it's human nature to want turmoil. People become bored without violence. Look at this place now!" He gestured vaguely at the window behind him that overlooked the gray haze of the village. "Domestic violence, suicide, robberies... everyone's restless. But it's better than war, is it not? I'm being completely honest when I say it's the best I can do. And as my most elite assassin, you also know the meaning of sacrifice. Your life, your emotions, your soul... everything's taken from you when you're in this line of work. But it's worth it because even if we're just tools, we're used to protect our people. We have a purpose."

Kisame's hand twitched slightly against the desk. During Yagura's entire speech, he'd been analyzing both of their reaction times. Just from watching the way the older man's muscles moved, he knew for a fact that he could draw his katana and deliver a lethal blow before the jinchuriki could conjur up the momentum to stop him. One quick slash and it would all be over. But the word 'purpose' rang in his head like a chant, forcing him to still his murderous intent. Purpose, he thought deleriously. I have a purpose. He made himself remember the fire and bloodshed he'd witnessed during that war so long ago... women knived in the back, men gutting each other, mortally wounded children wandering around in a trauma-induced stupor. The carnage had sparked something fierce in his young mind - he'd known this horrible massacre was similar to what had happened to his own village. This is why my family is dead, he'd thought. This is why I'm here! Ever since then, he'd possessed a cold, unwavering determination to prevent such violence, regardless of the cost. Even if the cost was his own humanity. Your life, your emotions, your soul, Yagura had said. But it's worth it.

"Damnit," he muttered, glaring at Yagura as he straightened himself. "You can deliver a pretty convincing speech."

"It's part of my job," the older man said listlessly. Where he'd been adamant and feverish just seconds earlier, he had once again lapsed into his doll-like demeanor. It was almost as though another person had given the speech.

Kisame sighed wearily and made for the door. Even though he hadn't been dismissed, he knew the conversation was over. There was no need to say aloud that he was going to go through with the mission... and he had a feeling that Yagura had known he'd do it from the start. He shot the man a miserable glare before leaving the room. My purpose is to enforce peace, he seethed. But what a terrible life!

*AUTHOR'S NOTE* Oh man, I was gonna finish Kisame's flashback in this chapter but it ended up being so fucking long and I still have so far to go! There's actually more written but this was the best place I could find to cut it off. So yah, sorry. And sorry about the long-winded rant from Fuguki's POV. (Fuguki's pov in Kisame's flashback? Doesn't even make sense!) A reader actually suggested it to me and I found it so tempting that I couldn't resist. Unfortunately, I just couldn't stop writing. Anyways, thanks for bearing with me. The next chapter has some smut and is quite action packed.