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It took Kisame days to track down Itachi’s body, and when he did, the state of it grieved him.

As his partner, Kisame had known Itachi’s foibles and weaknesses. On the day that they had first partnered up, the boy had already been half blind. In later years, he couldn’t see a damn thing unless he was using his mangekyo. Of course, in later years there was more fluid in Itachi’s lungs than air, a weakness in his limbs, and more bone than muscle to him. He had wasted away before Kisame’s eyes.

Itachi had been a fraction of himself at the end, and even then the younger brother had had difficulty defeating him. The little brother had been fortunate that dying at his hands had been Itachi’s dream.

Looking down at Itachi’s corpse – preserved, but enucleated – Kisame scowled. Even though it was what he had wanted, it was a shit end for a once great ninja.

Normally, dead was dead, but Itachi had been a Leaf. Konohagakure had a real thing about resurrecting the dead. The trick would be finding the right nin to do the job. It had to be someone trusted with access to the village’s forbidden jutsu, but weak enough that he could take them without outright killing them. Thanks to Itachi’s obsessive interest in his little brother and his old teammates, Kisame had just the kunoichi in mind. Konohagakure didn’t waste much combat training on their medic nin.

Fishing a storage scroll out of his pack, Kisame sealed Itachi’s corpse away – to preserve the freshness, if that was a factor in resurrection – and then left Zetsu’s hideout the same way that he had come into it.

Part one of his plan complete, Kisame moved on to part two: kidnapping the Godaime Hokage’s second apprentice. It would require a certain degree of subtlety. Fortunately, Kisame was good at subtlety.

He was.

 

 

Even though it went against his every instinct, both as a man and as a shinobi, Kisame decided to allow Pain and Konan be his distraction – not that he let them know it. They were already looking for a replacement for Itachi and cursing the loss of his ring more than the man himself.

They wouldn’t have understood.

The hardest part, Kisame figured, would be resisting the temptation to join in the chaos, but he would. Itachi was counting on him.

So, when the opportune moment arrived, Kisame simply followed Konan and the Six Path of Pain into the village. While Pain droned on and on and on about all the suffering in the world, and Konan blew shit up, Kisame took advantage of the distraction to go see a hospital about a medic nin. It seemed like the logical place for a medic nin to go for safety during a village-wide invasion.

Ninja seethed through the streets of the village, some running away from the intruders and other moving against the invaders with all the ferocious anger of warrior ants defending a kicked anthill. In all the chaos, it was relatively easy to go unnoticed, despite his looks. It helped that he was neither underfoot nor summoning giant fucking centipedes to knock buildings down.

The hardest parts about getting to the hospital were finding it and holding himself back, but Kisame managed. He wasn’t here for a fun, if meaningless, fight with the Village Hidden in the Leaves, after all. He was here for Itachi. After what they’d made Itachi into, Hidden in the Leaves owed him.

What he hadn’t expected was for her to be the hospital’s protection. From across the street, Kisame watched as the Hokage’s second apprentice alternately defended the village’s hospital and applied triage to the wounded as they were brought in. He watched as she fought the Animal Path and all its various summons, successfully too.

Give her a few more years, and she might have been worth fighting, thought Kisame, almost wistfully, as he watched her rip the path’s head off with her bare hands.

Unfortunately, her time was already up.

Kisame took her when her battle with the Animal Path was over, the kunoichi from Hidden in the Leaves victorious and her chakra depleted. She fought Kisame as well, of course, but she couldn’t afford to fight him as hard as she had found the Animal Path or its summons. How could she when she had spent all of her chakra defending the hospital and stabilizing her comrades? And her comrades, although quick with their medical jutsu and good at taking orders, were just as useless as Kisame expected of medic nin.

When his water clone’s fist finally slammed into her temple, the pink-haired kunoichi crumpled to the ground. Only Kisame’s arms saved her from cracking her head open on a jagged bit of pavement.

Heaving the girl over his shoulder, Kisame and his clone left as quietly and unnoticed as he had arrived. He thanked the village’s jinchuriki for that bit of luck.

Melodramatic fucker, that kid.

 

 

 

Usually, medic nin begged. This one woke up sputtering curses and threats. It was good that he’d thought to tie her up before he dispelled his water clone, dumping a shit-ton of water on her unconscious head. Otherwise, he might have had to hurt her.

Not that she seemed worried about hurting him, physically or otherwise. As soon as she heard what he wanted from her, the kunoichi said “You’re crazy.”

“What jonin isn’t?” said Kisame lightly, his feelings unhurt. “Come on. I was partners with Itachi for years. I know a thing or two about you Leaf nin.”

“He was a missing nin.”

“He was what your village made him,” snapped Kisame.

At the insolent arch of the girl’s eyebrows, Kisame gnashed his teeth.

“The villages we come from leave their marks on us,” said Kisame, sharp even after he had gotten himself more or less under control. “And after so many years with Itachi, I know you Leaf nin. I know that somewhere in that pretty head of yours lurks a resurrection technique for a rainy day.”

“You think I’m pretty?” mocked the kunoichi.

At the unimpressed arch of Kisame’s eyebrow, she changed direction.

“What would I even use a resurrection technique for?” challenged the Leaf nin.

“Resurrecting your comrades,” he said succinctly, and was gratified to see something flash across the girl’s face, there and gone in the same moment.

“Sounds nasty,” said the kunoichi. She squirmed, setting her bonds to creaking. “Let the dead lie.”

Kisame’s thumb dropped to the back of his ring, toying with the band as he tried to think how to get what he wanted. Torture was usually his go-to solution in these situations, but he probably needed this one whole, intact, and willing to help. The easiest option was probably just to pay her.

“How much for you to use it?” demanded Kisame. He could always kill her and take back the money later.

“What?”

“I’m trying to hire you,” snapped Kisame. “So how much would it cost me to get you to use your resurrection technique on my comrade?”

The kunoichi stared at Kisame. Annoyed, Kisame bristled, his eyes narrowing and his gills flaring.

“Why?” she finally asked.

“Why what?” returned Kisame, pretending not to know what she wanted to know.

“Why do you want me to do this?”

“Because he’s my comrade,” said Kisame, trying to appeal to her delicate Leaf sensibilities.

“Maybe, but you’re from Mist. I know about the exit exam for your academy. You killed your dearest comrades.”

Kisame hesitated there, uncertain of what to say. It was none of her business – except that he wanted her to resurrect this particular comrade of his.

Kisame blamed Itachi for that. His madness had clearly been contagious.

“Someone else killed him,” said Kisame. “Maybe I want you to resurrect him so that I can do it myself.”

“Pass.”

“So you do have a technique that will let you resurrect the dead!” crowed Kisame. Relief loosened his limbs, made him giddy. Until that very moment, Kisame hadn’t been certain that she had one.

The kunoichi cursed.

“Give up, sweet cheeks,” advised Kisame, “because one way or another, you’re bringing Itachi back from the dead.”

“I can’t. The seal requires a life, willingly given, to power it.”

“So?” Kisame didn’t see a problem there. He’d gladly murder her to bring Itachi back.

“So mine wouldn’t be willingly given, would it?”

Damn it.

Kisame had to actually think about that. Once, years ago, he had chosen to kill his teammates rather than sacrifice his life for theirs. Now, his teammate was already dead, courtesy of his own death wish. No one in their right mind would expect Kisame to sacrifice anything for Itachi. The Leaf kunoichi certainly didn’t, and thanks to generations of foolhardy self-sacrifice, Leaf was practically synonymous with insane loyalty – the crazier the better.

Kisame felt his resolve harden.

He had always wanted to be loyal, (to undo what he had done,) and dying for his comrades was a dream – albeit, one that he had put off as long as possible.

Kisame had never had a death wish, after all.

“Tell that idiot that he has to take care of this life,” said Kisame. “It’s mine, so he can’t throw it away this time.”

For the first time, the Leaf kunoichi looked shaken. “You can’t be serious.”

“It’s my life, and I’ll do what I want with it!” flared Kisame.

“It’s the stupidest waste of a life I’ve ever heard of!” snapped the kunoichi, rallying. She shrugged off her bonds, the better to poke Kisame in the chest. “Why would you want to even bother?” Her fierce expression suddenly softened. “Was he your boyfriend?”

Kisame laughed long and hard at that one.

“Lovers? With Itachi? Are you insane?”

Itachi was as pretty as a girl, prettier than most girls even, but he was bug-shagging crazy. Murderous and slightly unbalanced, Kisame could see his way around – the same could be said about any shinobi who survived coming up through the ranks, and it wasn’t like Kisame had a whole lot of offers on even his best days – but Itachi was on a whole different level.

And that wasn’t even considering what happened when someone had actually tried to pick Itachi up. He’d seen enough cute village girls throw themselves at Itachi to know that Itachi took that sort of thing – flirting, sexual innuendo, kisses – as challenges to mortal combat, ones that he’d risen to with unnerving enthusiasm. On rainy days – something that there were a lot of in Ame – Hidan had hit on Itachi for shits and giggles (and to get off when Itachi made him temporarily dead) without having to go outside and get wet.

Who’d be crazy enough to actually try to fuck that?

Not Kisame.

Kisame couldn’t believe that he was willing to die for that guy.

And yet, he was.

Stupid Itachi, Kisame thought irritably. Kisame glared at the girl. “Just give me the jutsu.”

The kunoichi narrowed her green eyes at Kisame. “Seal, and what’s in it for me?”

“What do you want?” offered Kisame. Whatever she wanted, it didn’t matter. He was already giving his life to Itachi. What more could she demand?

The Godaime Hokage’s apprentice grinned.