...this was...

Turned out differently than I thought, that's all. (lol?)

I don't know...has references to An Eye for an Eye


Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, because...omggg Minatooo!

Anything that doesn't follow canon...OH WELL. XD whoops. :'D trolololo-

Theme 3: Lullaby

It was a song he'd heard many times before. It was a slow sad song, the variation of a funeral lament from a foreign land morphed into a beautiful tune meant to celebrate life. There were countless places where he'd heard it, countless times, countless memories. The first time, maybe, it was Mito-sama, singing to her child. Kagami remembered it so clearly, like the whistle of wind through his ears.

It had been a cool night, damp but with a soothing breeze. He, Danzo, and Hiruzen had slipped into a line and followed Tobirama-sama without question. The heads of many clans, the most high level shinobi, were posted outside the cavern entrance. Biwako and Koharu were inside, closest to both the danger and the miracle. The anguished scream that tore from within the stone walls made him cringe, and he glanced over at his companions.

"Is she okay?" murmured Hiruzen, sidling over to his sensei and tugging on the white-haired Senju's arm. Tobirama-sama glanced down at the monkey, his eyes darting from the door to the cavern for a split second. He then looked over the two others — Danzo, stoic and silent, while Kagami nervously trailed after Hiruzen.

"She's fine," chuckled Tobirama-sama, for he knew that the Uzumaki was the strongest woman to ever grace the mainland's history. "This is why women, they say, are stronger than men."

Hiruzen snorted at this, because he could hardly believe that someone like Tobirama-sama would say such a thing.

"Sensei, have you gone soft?" he mocked, parroting a saying that so many ninja of the time liked to accuse others of.

"Hardly," replied Tobirama-sama dryly. "Ask your mother, and maybe you'll know."

Hiruzen made a face so comical that Kagami could not help but laugh. Leave it to the jokester to lessen the tension.

He was anxious, however, no matter how much Hiruzen joked. Even he, a mere genin still, could feel the taught energy in the air and the churning of a wrestling power. The Nine-tailed Fox, jerking wildly at its strains, so much so that Kagami could feel it from there. Danzo, unperturbed, laid a reassuring hand on his teammate's shoulder. He shook his head slightly; strong shinobi, were the words he mouthed silently to Kagami.

That's right, Kagami reassured himself. The God of Shinobi himself was accompanying his wife, and right here beside them was Tobirama-sama, and countless clan heads posted all about.

It had been a while now — Kagami knew that Mito-sama had been in labor for a long, long time, and that they'd come in the night, hopeful for some progress. Tobirama, in the last hour or so, had slipped inside the cavern, leaving them sitting wordlessly with a few ANBU guards. They tried not to react at the screams of pain, echoing through the clearing and bouncing off the water. It was almost as if Mito-sama was declaring to the world the dangers of this birth.

Suddenly, the door burst open, and the guards whipped around, kunai drawn.

But it was only Biwako, crying tears of joy, motioning for them to enter excitedly. Hiruzen was the first to scramble to his feet, and the other two soon followed. The ANBU, despite their orders to maintain their positions, began chattering enthusiastically, animal faces conversing in loud whispers. Kagami motioned to Danzo, and they too followed Hiruzen and scaled the cliff to the cavern entrance.

It was dim inside, lit only by a few candles, their mild, lavender scents wafting lightly through the door's threshold. There was a platform, a bed, where Mito-sama rested as she cradled her newborn. Hashirama-sama, oddly enough, was sulking just beyond, waiting for his turn to hold the baby. Koharu, snorting with laughter, informed them that one of Mito-sama's aides had slapped him away and declared, "The mother gets to see the child first!" with a pompous harrumph at the First Hokage. And so, Mito-sama was humming to her child, lulling the baby to sleep. The child cried and cried until Mito-sama began to sing, an Uzushiogakure tale of water sprites and golden birds spun into a lullaby. She sang until her baby quieted, falling into a peaceful slumber upon her breast. It was only then that Hashirama was allowed to hold his child, and the look of joy that lit up his handsome features was infectious.

"Hush, hush child," Mito continued to sing. "Have no fear, your golden wings will be your sword and spear. And if you spy a water sprite, you will fly your way to the morning's light."

It was a children's poem, meant for up and coming shinobi. Kagami listened; it almost saddened him, to know that such a song existed. It was sweet and beautiful, encouraging and bright, but with the ominous undertones of a shinobi world where war used to run rampant and nations pitted clans against one another mercilessly.

"Mito-sama," said an ANBU guard. "Lady Toka asks permission to enter."

The Uzumaki spluttered incredulously, and then burst into laughter. "Of course she may! Call her in!"

The ANBU almost cringed, and if he hadn't been masked, Kagami supposed that he would have been grimacing. He turned, opened the door, and to their shock and surprise, a large majority of the Senju clan poured in excitedly. And loudly.

The poor baby awoke and began to cry – Mito-sama was too tired to continue hushing the child, and also too tired to hush the crowd.

"EVERYBODY!" exclaimed Hashirama-sama. "QUIET!"

The entire Senju clan fell silent, and the closest cousins crowded around Mito and cooed lovingly at the baby. They began to roll off question after question – who the baby looks like, what's the name, girl or boy – until Tobirama-sama dutifully shoved himself between Mito-sama and the rest of his family, shooting glares every which way until they backed off.

Eventually, everyone was pushed out the door, a poor ANBU duo trying fruitlessly to herd everyone into some kind of organized fashion. Kagami and his friends were thrown out as well, leaving only the two girls to remain with the new mother and father.

"You know, I never thought of babies as cute until now," Hiruzen laughed, picking at the belt of his chest plate. He'd worn his armor, thinking that they might see some action – an assumption that had him duly scolded by Tobirama-sama, who stressed the fact that they wanted anything but action tonight. "You think I'll be able to teach Hashirama-sama's kid?"

"No," stated Danzo flatly, outright rejecting the monkey.

"Well, maybe you can teach his grandchildren," enthused Kagami, chuckling.

"I'll be so old then," sulked Hiruzen.

"Saru," drawled Tobirama-sama flatly, shooting his student a pointed glare. It seemed like Tobirama-sama was forever glaring. His few moments of softness were hard-earned and very rare; that is, unless you were his wife or something. (Then again, Kagami had figured a tsundere type for Tobirama-sama from the very beginning, and all the stories he heard of the Senju household only further proved him to be correct.) "If you continue complaining," Tobirama-sama warned, "I will curse you with the most unfortunate genin team in the history of genin teams."

"That's a very little history," came the snarky reply.

"Ah, but to be more unfortunate than training you? Quite a feat, isn't it?" Tobirama quirked a brow at his student, who pouted and crossly turned away as they walked back to the village.

"Tobirama-sama," said Danzo in the most monotone voice one could muster.


Kagami, for a very long time, wondered if Danzo had actually uttered the next few words. In fact, he sometimes stared into space and attempted to replay this scene, but it didn't quite fit so eventually he came to the conclusion that he was dreaming. Probably.

Without any embarrassment, Danzo asked blandly:

"When are you going to have a child? Are you making one yet?"

Either Danzo was really clueless, or he was actually trying to be funny. And Danzo never tried to be funny. Hiruzen guffawed and burst into tears of laughter, collapsing dramatically to the ground and rolling about as he giggled hysterically. Kagami blinked a few times, a smile tugging at his mouth, but he checked Tobirama-sama's expression first.

Tobirama-sama stared at the Shimura boy as if he'd grown another head. His scarlet eyes were wide and if that moment had been a comedy show on TV, the Senju's happuri probably would have fallen off.

"Danzo, what are you trying to insinuate?" he asked carefully, pausing to shove a caterpillar Hiruzen out of the way with his foot.

"Ow," Hiruzen yelped, before returning to his laughter and grabbing onto Danzo's leg.

"I'm insinuating that you—"

Before he could finish, Hiruzen clambered up Danzo's leg and started shaking the other boy's shoulders, laughing so madly that Kagami began to wonder if an enemy has released a smoke bomb full of laughing gas. Tobirama-sama, not quite sure he wanted to hear the end of that sentence, turned on his heel and trudged away wordlessly.

"Danzo…" Kagami stared at his teammate.



Kagami's ears rang with the familiar melody, the lullaby that Mito-sama used to sing, now echoed in Biwako's voice as she sang to her unborn child. Hiruzen was, perhaps, the happiest person in Konoha at the moment. Kagami, overseeing an entrance of new Academy students, could not help but turn and grin at Mito-sama, who occasionally graced the nearby gardens in her spare time. He would occasionally scoop up an Academy student or two and introduce them to the First Hokage's wife, and they would stare in awe.

Tsunade would drop by from time to time, smiling tightly because it was August, and August was always the most painful for her. On the 9th, she would drop by the Academy and say hello, often inviting the young Uzumaki transfer student to tea, perhaps helping Mito-sama care for the girl. Mito-sama would say nothing, and Kushina never asked when Tsunade ordered a lonely slice of cake and set a candle on it, mouthing happy birthday before blowing out the candle and counting the years.

On the 10th, Tsunade would tuck Hashirama-sama's necklace inside her shirt and walk out to the cemetery, where she paid her respects to Nawaki before returning to her two teammates that waited loyally by the gates.

But it was the birth of Hiruzen's first child that brought the celebration to the heart of Konoha. Mito-sama recited a chant of good health and good luck, with the longevity of the Uzumaki and the skill of the Senju. To Kagami's surprise, Koharu and Homura threw away their boring robes suitable only for council meetings, and seemed to remember that they were, in fact, still quite young, and could still fit into their old shinobi-life clothes. And, to himself, Kagami liked to say that Koharu was still as beautiful as always, though the hardened line of her mouth and the dark circles under her eyes seemed to mask her beauty. They had come, the marks of fatigue and sadness, after the death of Tobirama-sama. Somebody had been singing then, Kagami forgot who, but when Hiruzen stepped up and paid his respects to the Second Hokage, whilst taking the Hokage's hat and placing it upon his head, Koharu had been among the many who could not handle it any longer.

She'd fallen to her knees, and Kagami regretted not being able to comfort her.

And they'd drifted apart, slowly but surely, until Koharu became a trusted member of Konoha's council, leaving Uchiha Kagami somewhat drifting because she had been his anchor. He fell under the hand of his father, the new clan head since Madara-sama's leave, and worked robotically under the Uchiha Police Force. Had he been anyone else, he would have thrown the job away and hated the Senju with a cold heart. However, he knew, so very well, that the Uchiha Police Force was a gift granted to his clan, a chance to integrate into society and help keep the order and peace. For that, he stayed, and for Tobirama-sama and his countless, subtle kindnesses, Kagami stayed.

He brought flowers to Tobirama-sama's wife every Sunday, until the emptiness in her eyes began to heal and the children did not have to forcefully tell her to get out of bed every morning. He ran errands for Hiruzen, and later, Biwako, when they were expecting their child. He would brush past Koharu wordlessly; she never really looked at him anymore.

Eventually, he was married to a pretty Uchiha girl, and he learned to love her. He knew, as did she, that he would never truly fall in love, but he appreciated their closeness and companionship that they shared. She, too, had once longed to marry a handsome shinobi from outside their clan. However, he was her greatest misfortune – she happened to fall in love with a Senju. For that very reason, her parents pulled her closer to the clan, so close that Kagami's father deemed her a worthy fit for his son to marry.

Kagami grew to despise his father.

But he had one great happiness, and that was his son.

Shisui was his world when he was born, and his love for another was never greater. He vowed to the graves of the First and Second that he would teach this child the ways of peace, the ways towards a world where hatred was demolished and shinobi did not have to go to war. It was his dream, really, to see his own Will of Fire carried on. So when Shisui was born, Kagami, no matter how ridiculous he looked, began singing Mito-sama's lullaby through his tears of joy. Of course, he let his wife hold the child first, but he sang and sang until his voice was hoarse and he was reduced to soft whispers, watching his wife and child fall asleep.

Uchiha Shisui became an excellent shinobi – he made his father proud, truly proud. His best friend was Uchiha Itachi, son of the new clan head, a respectable man named Fugaku. The two of them were the top students in their respective classes, and they stuck together like Velcro. It was only when their monthly clan meetings drifted towards a new goal with a new motivation that Kagami became anxious.

As a respected elder, living through three Shinobi World Wars, Kagami was a source of knowledge and experience. Clan leader Fugaku turned to him and asked:

"Kagami-sama, please tell us your opinions on this new plan. What risk is there to Itachi playing the double agent between the Uchiha and the ANBU?"

Kagami was silent then, and he mused to himself that he could feel another hair go gray. But, in the end, he still had a duty to answer to his clan, so he said:

"Double agents are dangerous, very dangerous. If you are willing to put your son at such a risk, you may do so. I only have one request – please don't involve Shisui."

At this, there were several murmurs of assent, understanding.

"And what of the coup d'état?"

Kagami froze. The coup. Of course he would have to answer, of course they'd ask him his opinion. He folded his hands neatly in his lap, and slowly looked around the room.

"That, is…" Kagami paused. "An issue."

"An issue?" echoed a man, one of Fugaku's partners. "What of it? Do you not support our cry and rally, Kagami-sama?"

"All I wish to see is peace," Kagami told him firmly. "However it may come about. I do not believe that my experience will help this kind of action in any way. It is up to you — you are the future generation, are you not?"

He was always bad at wiggling his way out of tight spots, but he hoped that it would be sufficient for the younger clan members at the time being. The man glanced at Fugaku, who sat back and pondered Kagami's words. His wife, the soft, young Mikoto, bit her lower lip and touched his elbow. He pulled away in a way so familiar that Kagami could not keep watching. He remembered Koharu, always Koharu, pulling away from him when he offered to be her pillar of support.

He suddenly told Fugaku, "Cherish your loved ones, clan head. And then, your desires will come to fruition." Then, a bit sadly, he added, "As mine have not."

With that, Kagami stood, creakily stretching his old knees and ambling out of the meeting room. The other Uchiha elders stared after him, but he did not say a word. The fresh air was all he wanted, really. He wished to be uninvolved, but he knew, as an Uchiha, that he was bound to whatever the clan decided on, no matter the protests and cries against it.

Tobirama-sama, would you silence us? Kagami pondered to the breeze. And Hashirama-sama, would you have tried to compromise?

Each option had its downfalls. Tobirama-sama's way of dealing with this kind of thing was obvious — it meant the imminent end to the Uchiha. On the other hand, Kagami would have agreed with the white-haired Senju that the First's methods were too soft; the Uchiha would riot again. There is no answer, is there?

Fugaku looked for him one more time, in private.

"Kagami-sama, forgive me if I'm intruding, but is there a reason you have not shared clear thoughts on our plans?" he asked that night, a gentle dusk by the Naka River. Kagami, with some difficulty, bent and scooped up a flat stone, smooth and round. He easily skipped it across the river, as it was quite narrow there. When it hit the other side, he sighed, wondering if his old teammates had such trouble with their aging bodies nowadays. Fugaku waited in silence, patiently watching as Kagami picked up another stone and considered it.

"I," began Kagami, "am only a guardian of this clan. I can no longer influence this family, nor can I lead it. I can only watch over you all and give blessings to the younger generation."

Protect those who have faith in you…train those whom you can leave the next generation.

Kagami chuckled, and Fugaku tried not to show his confusion. The clan head was skilled, experienced, tough. He had a calloused shell, firm in his beliefs. For a moment, Kagami pictured Fugaku as he had been as a boy — slightly self-conscious, pretentious, and superior to all the other shinobi his age. Not quite a brat, but certainly quite the show.

"Kagami-sama, I mean no disrespect," Fugaku began carefully, slowly, "but do you mean to say that you disapprove of the coup?"

The older Uchiha turned to the clan leader and clapped him grandly on the shoulder, laughing.

"Boy," exclaimed Kagami, a small light twinkling in his eyes, "I mean to say that I'm too old to make a difference! It is up to you."

But you're right…I don't approve.

Fugaku risked a small smile, nodding curtly.

"Whatever you do," Kagami said solemnly now, "I trust that it will be a decision made with the pride and honor of the Uchiha clan kept in mind."

"Yes, sir," agreed Fugaku. "Of course. We carry the symbol that fans the Will of Fire with our heads held high. It's something that has been taught since birth."

After that, Fugaku failed to pry any more opinions out of Kagami, only a few wise words and a chuckle or two. When he left, Kagami reached out and grabbed the young clan head's arm.

"Fugaku," he said. "One last thing."

"Yes, Kagami-sama?"

"Keep in mind," Kagami told him in a low voice, "that the pride of the Uchiha was once built out of friendship, trust, and peace — not from ill-will. There is more than one clan in this village, and we cherish them all equally."

Fugaku's eyes narrowed, but he did not reply. He only nodded, breaking loose from the older man's grip and walking away. Kagami was left by the river, a gurgling portion of stream that would be stained by blood and massacre sooner than he would have thought.

He stood, interestingly enough, in the same spot his son would stand in the next day. The spot where his son, his beloved Shisui, would unbuckle his shoes, whisper a final farewell, and plunge into the icy depths of the river after stripping the bandages off of his empty eyes.

"Hush, hush child, have no fear, your golden wings will be your sword and spear. And if you spy a water sprite, you will fly your way to the morning's light."

His hand shot out, grabbing the boy's arm. He realized, and it did not surprise him, that the child's hands were shaking, and his skin was cold and clammy. Long, dusty midnight hair brushed the boy's shoulders, framing his face in the shadows. His lips were dry and his eyes were swollen from shedding too many tears. The boy's hands trembled around his blade, holding it up with apprehension.

"Do not hesitate," ordered Kagami, fumbling with the item in his pocket. The boy glanced down, suspicious. But Kagami only produced an old necklace, Shisui's, that had been collected from the body. At least, what was left of it, the bloated corpse rocking down the Naka River without any eyes.

Kagami strung it around the boy's neck, whispering, "It was Shisui's. Take it."

The night was a hunt, prey falling with terribly muffled screams, and hunters dodging stealthily through the compound. The boy's hands trembled, and he whimpered when he realized that Kagami had run himself through with the sword.

Be safe, child. Never forget those who are important to you.

Itachi whispered a thank you, and then he ran.

"You write poetry?"

"I guess. Kind of." He tucked his notebook closed, carefully shoving the pen into the spiraled edge and pulling it close to his body.

"I didn't know that."

"There're lots of things you don't know." He had not really written poetry; only the lyrics to a lullaby he'd heard once. She peered at him curiously, but he did not open up.


"Like how I write, sometimes, I guess." He was awkward, a little bit shy. He did not know what to say.

"What do you write?"

"Things." He wanted to ask her when it was that she began talking so much, asking so many questions. He used to be the teasing one, the jokester, the funny one. He used to be the one that had to prompt her to open up, joking around and sending her flowers, planting a sweet kiss on her cheek every morning.

But now she watched him, a little sadly, a little apprehensively, mostly confused.

"Care to name a few things?"

He looked up at her.


"Kagami," she said softly, taking a seat beside her. He visibly tensed, and her hand, reaching over to his, pulled back abruptly. "Kagami, I'm—"

"You're happy," he finished for her, standing up rapidly. He grabbed his leather pack from the ground, slung it around his shoulder, and stuffed his notebook into it. "That's all I want, really. For you to be happy. You're happy, right?"

"No, Kagami—"

"Don't tell me anything different, please," he insisted, turning on his heel and leaving.


She screamed after him.

"I'm not happy, and it's your fault!"

He turned on her then, viciously.

"And you think I am?"

Koharu went quiet, and could only swallow her biting remarks down her throat as he stormed away.


Kagami motioned for his son to come a little closer.

"I'm not—"

"Come here for a moment. Tell me how this sounds. Your golden wings will be your sword and spear."

"That sounds cheesy," Shisui snorted, shooting his goofy father a grin and readjusting his grip on the scroll that he was not supposed to be taking. He skillfully slipped it back into his father's desk, but did not escape Kagami's notice. Even so, his father did not say a word, only waited for a further opinion on his supposedly cheesy lines. "Well," Shisui added, "are you trying to write an anniversary poem, or what?"

"No, it's a lullaby."

"A lullaby?" Shisui made a face, running a hand through his shaggy hair. He had thick curls like his mother, but the signature black bird's nest came from Kagami, surely. "Is someone expecting a baby? Don't answer that," he said quickly.

"No, no one's expecting a baby. It's just an old song I heard."

"That's…reassuring," Shisui laughed, sidling away from the desk and making for the doorway.

"Shisui," Kagami called, as his son dodged out the door and made for his room. The patter of footsteps froze, and the hesitant shadow of his boy lingered in the hallway.

"Yeah, Dad?"

"Just ask when you want the scroll, okay?"

It was cold and dark, the sand beneath his toes was moist with the lapping water of the river. He stood there for a while, contemplating the depth of the water, the darkness that swam in the murkiness below. Slowly, he put his shoes back on, because he heard traces of shinobi voices behind him. They were coming for him, and he was wasting time. He brought a hand up to the pendant his father had once given to him, strung around his neck.

He searched the woods with his one good eye.

Shisui ran.

"Hush, hush child, have no fear, your golden wings will be your sword and spear. And if you spy a water sprite, you will fly your way to the morning's light." Kagami bounced his infant on his knee, singing under his breath as the curly-haired child gurgled happily. The father laughed, finally realizing what Hiruzen meant by children being a hassle — one moment, happy and giggling, the next moment, crying like the Hokage Mountain was crumbling. And then maybe happy again.

Kagami had just managed to get Shisui to stop crying, and was sitting on the porch enjoying the afternoon, despite the cold. It was mid-February, and he'd bundled up his son with scarves, layering up and setting outside to see the first flakes of snow fall. He also discovered that Shisui had an irrational fear of snowflakes, for when the beginning of snow began to descend, Shisui had frozen in horror and started crying big fat tears.

It was only when Kagami told his child, "Silly Shisui, it's only Tobirama-sama come to say hello," that the child actually quieted and began giggling. It was either that, or because Kagami had stuck out his tongue and was making a demonstration of catching snowflakes in his mouth. He did, however, believe that Tobirama-sama liked to spend his birthdays visiting the earth, because it was always somewhat snowy or icy during Konoha's Februaries.

He hummed cheerily to the child until a young chuunin messenger for Hiruzen dashed by. The boy was wrapped up almost as much as Shisui, scarves and hats and a flak jacket that hardly fit over his big sweater. He skidded to a stop upon seeing Kagami, his hat sliding halfway off his head an revealing a head full of soft, wheat-blond hair. He had the brightest blue eyes, and a shy smile.

"Minato-kun, right?" said Kagami, smiling fondly at the boy.

"Good morning, Kagami-sama!" said the boy cheerily, readjusting his hat and straightening his mail pack. "How is the little one doing?"

"Shisui is doing just fine," Kagami laughed. "He just met the snow today."

Minato smiled, offering a finger to the baby. Shisui grabbed the boy's thumb and jerked him forward with more power than expected, pulling the lanky teenager off balance. The blond laughed and allowed the baby to pat his hand for a little bit, before straightening and pulling out some mail.

"Well, um, there's a lot of stuff here, but I don't really know anyone besides Fugaku and a few others," explained the boy, peering at a package with a frown. "Kushina sent something for Mikoto, but…you know what, I should find that…"

Minato began talking to himself, and Kagami chuckled.

"Minato-kun, let me take all that for you," he offered, reaching for the mail. "Shisui and I will deliver the mail, won't we?" He jostled the little boy on his lap, and the infant gurgled nonsense with a silly grin on his baby face.

"Really? Thanks so much, Kagami-sama!" Without any further dawdling, Minato slapped his bag closed and ran away like the Red-hot Habanero was on his tail. A speedy one, that yellow-headed fellow.

Kagami stood, holding Shisui in one arm and tucking the mail under his other. He rounded the edge of the complex, turning into the main center. They delivered each letter and package door by door, and the clan members were generally very excited to see the young child. Aunts and uncles were delighted, family members all crowding around to appreciate the curly-haired infant.

"Shisui, how do you like the snow?" a man about Kagami's age asked. "Look at him, he's so happy, hmm?"

"He sure is," agreed Kagami, continuing on their travels. When he finished delivering, he toted Shisui out to the forest, where he walked for a while. They reached the Naka River, and Kagami picked a smooth, sandy shore area where they could watch the water lap the stones and tumble downstream peacefully. Shisui patted the sand with his chubby fingers, and when he poked an arm into the water, he found it to be terrifyingly cold, too cold for his baby hands. Kagami laughed and pulled him back. "No, don't go there, you'll be an ice cube in no time," he laughed, fixing the baby's scarf when it unraveled. "Your mother would kill me if I froze you in the river, you know."

Kagami settled the child in his lap, staring at the river for a while. Chunks of ice broke off from the banks and drifted jerkily downstream, breaking as they hit boulders and catching themselves on one another. There was a large mass of ice, frozen solid to Kagami's left. He watched as a portion of it came off, a small shard that burbled past the rest and collided with a rock, flipping downstream and tumbling out of sight. Absently, Kagami stroked his son's head until the boy fell asleep in his arms, sighing steady little puffs of breath into the cold, winter air.

"Water sprites," Kagami said for no apparent reason, still studying the water. Was the river alive? Could it be a living thing, breathing and struggling to survive? What if it was a gigantic monster, an arm that stretched out to some unknown destination? Kagami stared at the river, half frozen over, half frothing freely over stones, the rock bed pushed to the bottom. The thin layer of snow that dusted the grass was like a hazy shield over his vision. The snowflakes coalesced into the shapes of humans, kneeling by the river and tracing their fingers over the frozen surfaces.

It was as if he could picture Tobirama-sama, breaking off that shard of ice, sending it downstream. Tobirama-sama, from the snow, stooping by the riverbank, silently, aloof and mysterious, freeing the one icy shoulder of the larger mass from its frozen confines.

Kagami realized, with a start, that he was that shard of ice.

Shisui, suddenly, began to cry.

"Hush, hush," Kagami began to sing automatically, his throat somewhat dry. Shisui clung to his father's jacket, the little Uchiha crest sewn onto his baby-sized coat a blurb of red against navy. He stood, scooping the baby in his arms, and began trudging back to the Uchiha compound. Kagami held Shisui close to his chest, ignoring the eerie feeling of being watched. He didn't look back.

In the light frost of snow, in the smooth clay bank of the river, footprints.

The floorboards had always been creaky, squelching incessantly every time someone passed. But now, at the strike of midnight, they were deadly silent. An ominous weight hung in the air, but Kagami refused to be affected by it. He laid there, the metallic taste of blood on his tongue, every muscle in his body stilled. He stared at the ceiling without blinking for quite some time, wondering if he had already passed and was just now staring at some mirage before he entered the afterlife.

Itachi had laid him on his back before going, and Kagami found it to be surprisingly comfortable. It was not cold, nor was it painful. He simply rested, a strange warmth filling his chest, tingling his fingers. His hands were crusted with blood, some dry, some fresh, all of which had begun to pool beneath his him. The creaky floorboards were soaked, stained, crimson.

Kagami found it strange that he was overcome with happiness, but at the same time, he understood it completely.

He was going to see Shisui again.

My son, with his golden wings and his golden spear, he thought to himself wondrously. If only I could've shown Koharu, what a beautiful poem that would make.

Dry humor, really. Koharu would never forgive him for going off and dying, even though it seemed like an inevitable part of his cursed Uchiha lineage.

And my water sprite was real, wasn't he? Why didn't anyone sing this song for me? Kagami, delusional, wanted to laugh, if it wasn't for the blood pooled at the back of his throat and the heavy, thick mist of black haziness that was fogging his mind. A real water sprite. I shall find my morning.

He could not make sense of what he was thinking anymore. He saw so many faces, everywhere, from all times and memories and places. He saw tears and he saw smiles, deaths and births, lights and darks. He recalled hugging Shisui to his chest in joy; his baby boy, his own baby boy.

He recalled watching Shisui go.

In his last moments, Shisui could only hear a distant ringing in his ears, bells and chimes jingling lightly in the wind. The tune was one he'd heard many times before, the first time sung by a beautiful woman with hair like a sea of rubies. It was a slow sad song, the variation of a funeral lament from a foreign land morphed into a beautiful tune meant to celebrate life. There were countless places where he'd heard it, countless times, countless memories. So, so many times, he had listened to this lullaby.

And, he realized, in a final moment of clarity — this would be the last.

Well. That was more depressing than expected, hmm?

And...long. lol. =3=