Fire Under Water
Naruto fan fiction
Genre: pre-series, psychological horror, tragedy
Characters: Itachi, Kisame, mentions of Shisui
Rating: G (K)
Word Count: 1600 or so
Summary: In the wake of the Uchiha massacre, Itachi travels to Kirigakure, only to find that water hardly hinders ghosts.
Notes: So, um. Itachi is nutter buttery as ever.
Written for naruto_meme: Itachi haunted by Shisui's ghost.
+ psychological torment
+ hidden guilt
+ mentions of Kisame
Here, Kisame introduces the river. It is quiet, if pensive.
It has no name, as is the custom in Kirigakure; many things do not, like infants, or food. It has no name because it is of no significance, for it is only a burial place. Kirigakure's dead are pushed from the banks on a bed of reeds and set afire, such that the bodies do not contaminate the river with their refuse. The bones eventually sift to the bottom, and are forgotten. Itachi is familiar with the sentiment.
A gesture. Itachi looks down. Bones, and silt, and cold deep water. This is familiar, too.
What was left of a swordsman, Kisame explains. When the village sent him out to sea there was no need of fire, because what remained of him was only bones. All his flesh had been sheared off. Kisame knocks Samehada's head against the bottom of the boat meaningfully.
A proud moment, then, Itachi surmises. An interesting prospect.
Other paths are paved with good intentions, but this one is lined instead by fireflies. The river's surface rocks with Samehada's syncopated pounding, and the boat lurches until all the world fades to muted smears of evening and river. Firefly glow settles low just above the choppy surf, watching, watching. Waiting.
Somewhere, a river is drowning.
And for the first time, Itachi isn't suffocating in the dark corners of the Uchiha household, in the silent rooms with silent floorboards--everything tucked away and hidden so no one has to see.
His own breathing is far too loud; far far too loud. It's the only thing left in this world and it's moving the emptiness
the air and it's fanning the
which are everywhere everywhere everywhere on his skin in his hair in the deep pit of his stomach (this is where it all started) because
Somewhere, a river is drowning in blood.
There were two friends (not really; friendship is a strange term. Stranger in his village, this shinobi village, and alien to this house)--
There were two cousins (but only maybe; it's the blood of only one that paints the water. Were they cousins, were they kin, then the blood would be theirs both
--Wouldn't it? (Maybe it is, because
He can't breathe his throat is filled filled filled with something, something from his stomach from his liver from his heart from everything everything and he doesn't even know
what it is. How it got there. Why. From the torrent of his breathing the world eclipses into silence in the dark because
Somewhere, a river drowned in blood, and the killer's catching fire. Itachi opens his mouth and all there is
Flame slithering from his eyes his fingers where he touched him (touched that outstretched neck, splayed like a crane in its death throes, crushed tissue and muscle and tendon between his thumbs) his mouth that drew him there because
There were two Uchiha, at least--cousins maybe, friends unlikely--sitting by that river. Sitting sitting sitting, 'til one leapt in, leapt before the other could shove him. Tried to drown himself. Itachi couldn't kill him if he
If he killed himself first.
The river drowns in blood, Itachi's blood, when Itachi's hands try to force Shisui to the surface so that they might pull him under once more. It's very sad. Pathetic, even. Shisui bites down hard; he's never spilled his own kin's blood before. He drinks in water and leaves Itachi
It's very sad, the next morning. The village, the shinobi village where there are no friendships with well-meant worry (a dozen morbid curiosities fill the gap), finds the body. Bruised on the rockbed when he jumped, sliced to ribbons by river debris. Water-bloated, paled and shriveled.
It's very sad, the next evening. The family, the shinobi family where there are no words (but plenty of well-meant-but-useless worry), finds the killer. In the yard, with Sasuke. They were out last night; together--so Itachi says when prompted. Sasuke would have readily agreed, if asked, but he is not; he slips into the house unnoticed.
Time passes; it's hard to remember exactly. It's a sad story. No one wants to remember. It's unbecoming to recall something like that. It didn't happen to you; things like that don't happen to you. That is kind of thing you watch. Far removed, you sit and stare as that sad story unfolds for someone else. Not for you. Never for you. Someone else's child--and some other cousin, drowned. A little like that; no one talks about it. An unremarkable child who has tragically lost an unknown cousin, or something like that.
Something like that.
Kisame would like to know where Itachi went; he verbalizes as much, on any account. The sincerity of this is doubtful, as Itachi has long since determined Kisame is of a breed--not unfamiliar and not altogether welcome--that thrives off of a vague, morbid curiosity.
The river is calm again. Itachi was sitting in the boat. Is still sitting in the boat, and that is all Kisame needs to know.
But a memorial had been planned, for the hundredth day. There was to be a procession, the burning of incense, a bonfire into which the last of cousin Shisui's ashes would be offered. Much can happen in a hundred days; Uchiha Fugaku's esteemed son turned thirteen, an event met with muted felicitation, because Uchiha are measured by deed, and not by age.
Uchiha Itachi will never again be measured.
The deeds will follow him forever. It has been one hundred days.
In the wake of what is being called the Uchiha Massacre these days, the unfortunate accident that precipitated Uchiha Shisui's death is mostly forgotten, smothered by the smoke that rises up as one hundred and thirteen men and women--fifty-seven ninja, twenty-four children of ninja, and thirty-two civilians, for whom Itachi was only a legend, along with everything else that existed outside the Uchiha compound--burned gracelessly.
Sasuke will remember the pain. The rest of Konoha will remember the smell. And Itachi will remember Shisui, because that night, he'd had a choice.
Everything that followed was a matter of course. One day, the ghosts of his mother and father, his brethren, will find him. They will curl their fingers into his hair and pull, clamp hands around his neck to strangle him. They will wrest every defense from his mind and body, take knives to his skin and flay every lie and self-deception, every sorry justification and bit of iron determination, right off.
But (--and time is rolling, rolling, like the current beneath Kisame's boat; it gives a lurch and noses downward as they enter a network of sea caves, which curve lazily into darkness, and Itachi feels as though he might be violently ill).
But they have to find him first. Itachi is so far gone he does not think even he could help them.
"It's not so bad," says Shisui. "Losing everything, I mean. It means the worst is over."
Itachi is only as superstitious as the rest of his kind, but seeing Shisui now, he imagines that dying will not spare him anything.
"I can walk through the gates of my village without threat of death. Doesn't mean they wouldn't rip me limb from limb, given the chance," Kisame continues.
At the back of his mind, Itachi determines that it must have been Kisame speaking before as well, not Shisui. Never Shisui. (And the idea is silly, very silly--no more words will slip from those bloated lips, that flattened windpipe--)
"Bringing you in won't help, either. You'll be the first outsider to see Kirigakure; the first in a long while. Well." Kisame pauses, wrestles with a sly undercurrent, cuts expertly around a jutting stalagmite. Amends his statement. "Aside from the Mizukage. But the Mizukage is the Mizukage, however treacherous his....ascension."
Pride, now loyalty.
"But it's kind of a point of no return, you know? Something starts and it's pointless to stop it. I killed my family, too. Killed my brother."
Empathy. Empathy born of misinformation, of course, but there are fates worse than death. What he's done to Sasuke will catch up to him eventually, just like the ghosts of his family, one swell after another. Nevertheless, Kisame is finally speaking in a language Itachi can understand.
Whatever ghosts plague him, whatever Sasuke inflict--these cannot find him as Shisui has. They cannot burn him from the inside out.
Guilt is oil and Kirigakure is water. Kirigakure is the mist into which Itachi plans to vanish.
Itachi is not coming back. (But if he isn't, what is speaking to Kisame? What is skirting Konoha, and what is baiting Sasuke?)
Kisame devours him with his eyes, full of blade-edged curiosity, but Itachi does not return the favor. Gaze fixed forward, he watches as shadow billows out from shadow at the far end of the cave. Cape floods the damp stone floor like the ragged wings of a finished cormorant.
"No hello, my dear Itachi? I seem to recall that the clan, ravaged as it was--and is, especially, I suppose--schooled you better."
Greeting or no, Madara owns him. Itachi made a choice that night, one hundred days ago, knowing full well that this is where it led.
"Too dark, perhaps. Kirigakure isn't as favorable a home to your fireflies as Konoha was. That river--your favorite. I've forgotten its name, if ever it had one. Fireflies prefer pure water, no? And Kirigkure's rivers run with blood."
Kisame shifts, almost imperceptibly.
"Fresh water," is Itachi's only return. Fireflies prefer fresh water. But Madara is right.
There will be no more fireflies to flood the Nakano with their light.
6 October 2009-28 December 2009