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Mind Gardens: Chapter 2. Part One. [ShiIta; NC-17]
OMG IT'S FUCKING MIND GARDENS
tothe_slaughter
Author: the_lady_lamb
Genre: Naruto
Sub-genre: Romance/Drama
Summary: Shisui is a problem solver. Itachi is a problem. And according to Shisui, any problem that starts with sex can be solved with sex. AU. ShiIta. Brain Damage spinoff.
Rated: NC-17 for sex, incest, etc.
Author's Notes: Response to prompt #4: "The Thrill of the Forbidden, or, 'No, You Must Not!...Here, Let Me Help You.'" Shisui tries to make Itachi accept that he's gay for him. Part One of Chapter 2. If you'd like to see it formatted correctly, go ahead and read it on FF.Net.
Previous Chapters: Prologue | Chapter 1 (1, 2)



Mind Gardens
Chapter 2
Part One



God had constructed Itachi as an object of cruelty. This, Shisui had realized quite a long time ago, but it had taken him a long time to word it properly. They were the perfect words, really; rather, that one word, "cruel." It described the exact, sharp downward angle of Itachi's eyes. It described the thin brushstroke of his mouth. It described the intoxicating perfection of his body. It described his intellect. It described his personality. Itachi was a cruel beauty, a cruel mind, a cruel tongue. And most cruel, of course, was the aloof, inadvertent way of him; the cruelest thing was that he was this way not on purpose, but by design. Itachi was an object of feverish amour to the point of intense loathing.

His exhibition was on a Tuesday in mid-May, a week, as he'd said, after he successfully initiated Itachi's entry into what was basically adulthood (he hoped), or at the very least, the sexual realm with himself as head and sole proprietor. And as his bruise turned from black to a putrid, rotting sort of greenish brown, he became more and more certain of the fact that he had a bit cheated over the course of the whole thing. I mean, honestly. Itachi had gotten to beat the shit out of him and cum in his mouth? And he even swallowed. Surely that was worth something. He had behaved himself admirably - yes, been nothing short of saintly, and his baby cousin hadn't even bothered to call him afterwards.

He thought it was about time he did something about that.

Step 1: Bait/lure.
Step 2: Redemption.
Step 3: ?
Step 4: Profit.

And why not work on getting some, while he was at it? Surely there was no law against that.

There was a law against sex with minors. But hell, what kind of person was both interesting and law-abiding? And, Shisui thought, he was certainly the former.

Quite certainly.

He'd been working steadily for several days, locked up in his room and transforming whatever space could be spared into studio space. His roommate, whatever his name was, hadn't been pleased with the development, but had been far too frightened of him to dare tell him what he thought about the ordeal. Thus, Shisui's room now smelled like concentrated turpentine, the shower - which he'd used for splattering - was now stained in every color imaginable, the windows were covered with paintings hung up to dry, and everything had a stain somewhere. Really, he didn't need to be working so hard - he was only a Painting I student - but he thoroughly enjoyed playing with colors. Learning how to paint inevitably forced him to learn how to see color, and now he was seeing things in ways he'd never before. It was liberating.

So, relatively speaking, Shisui was happy.

And, for that matter, prepared.



The day of the exhibition arrived without complication right around the time when it seemed What's-His-Kun might be preparing to formally voice his opposition, and several of his prettier female classmates (whom Shisui suspected had been part of a biker gang in their past life) helped him carry out his pieces in their low-slung paint spattered jeans and their sexy makeup. The set up was in a well-attended wing of one of the science buildings on the main campus, a place with cherrywood hardwood flooring that gleamed and white walls and lighting fixtures that he supposed were designed to have a minimalist modern sort of chiq look to them. They didn't, but he supposed that was the initial intention of them.

Set-up took about an hour; the trick was to make the organization of the pieces aesthetically intuitive while not being too overwhelming, or focusing too much on just one artist. There were twenty students in the department, after all, who had been asked to show, and that meant a gravity of what was, for the most part, excellent pieces of amateur art. There was one set he didn't like, where the artist claimed to be abstract but was really just a photorealist with a sense of spacing and proportion that was so sloppy, Shisui wondered if he had ever actually seen a human being in his entire life.

He wore a cocktail dress for no other reason than to wear one, a flimsy little red thing that hugged his barely-curves obscenely and made him look even more effeminate than usual, and when his roommate had inquired - mouth hung open in shock - what the hell he was doing, Shisui had shrugged as he laced up his Chuck Taylor's and said: "Going to my exhibition, you nosy brat", in that cruel way of his that made Takano-Takeshi's eyes widen in discomfort and a chill envelop his nerve. It should be said that relatively speaking, Shisui looked pretty good. The kinds of people he associated with (excepting Itachi, of course) were all strange enough to not see anything about him strange at all, and Shisui was far too comfortable with his sexuality (that is, he liked women but loved Itachi) to see anything gay about being a guy and wearing a skirt.

He was simply an island of himself, moated in disregard and home to the surrealistic jellyfish and sea turtles of his toxic waste ocean.

He skewered a Swedish meatball, which a friend of another exhibitee had been kind enough to provide as refreshment (along with a bowl of punch), and plopped it into his mouth, watching the clock. His cousin wasn't the type to show up late, fashionably or otherwise.

Rather, he was early. Not so much that he mingled with Shisui's associates, but early enough to be one of the first people let into the exhibition. He was, per usual, dressed immaculately, in a way that revealed absolutely nothing about his body except that dark colors became him. He wore a soft blue pinstriped button-down and a dark dinner jacket, left open, and he milled dutifully around, sliding out of Shisui's sight so furtively that it was as if he'd planned it each time.

Shisui finally caught him by one of his favorite pieces.

"Cousin!"

The eldest of them smiled in that dazzingly sickening way, sipping his drink and leaning into him just barely, but more than enough to get his attention. Itachi shied from him, if barely, wearing a familiar expression of vague disdain. He took a moment, as he always did when something was amiss, and Shisui smiled a bit wider despite himself as his eyes strayed with unnecessary length to his dress.

"...is there a reason," Itachi said, finally, "for you to be wearing that."

"Why of course. I look delectable."

"I hardly find that particular descriptor appropriate."

"Meatball?"

"I dislike the innuendo implied by your segue."

"..........would you like to consume a delicious Swedish Meatball provided by a wholesome culinary major for this equally wholesome spectacle."

"I'm not hungry."

Shisui sighed, expression flat. "You would. How do you like the work?"

Itachi watched him for a moment, before turning back to the piece in front of him. He seemed to take a moment to formulate a response.

"...technically," he said, "I am able to appreciate it's complexity. But..." He hummed softly behind closed lips, mind whirring so loudly, Shisui could almost hear it working through his skull. "...I am admittedly somewhat amateur in regards to my abilities to appreciate much more than that. I feel very little of it elicits any sort of emotional reaction.

"...not that that should surprise you."

Shisui scoffed, the most he could do to retort the vague sense of disgust and even more vague sense of hurt at his response. Hardly the sort of reaction he'd desired, but anything more or less wouldn't be Itachi, and he knew that. "It's a still life, you fool. No emotional reaction is meant to be elicited."

"Is it impossible to have an emotional reaction elicited by the message intended by a wooden bowl of fruit?" Itachi looked over at him, almost curiously.

Shisui sighed dismissively. "Don't ask that question. Ask why's not is's."

"...you're offended." It was a statement.

"I know not what that word even means."

"You are offended by what I have said."

Shisui smiled disarmingly, placing a hand on his hip. "Flitter about the rest of the exhibit, won't you. The mass of the people will make themselves present within the next thirty minutes, and I want you to look at everything before you leave in a mess of social phobia and bad temper."

"...as you wish," Itachi said slowly, still examining him as if he would like to take a sample of his skin under a microscope, if only to make better sense of him. It took a second before he detached from that area of the floor and went gliding slowly off.

Shisui remained awkwardly quiet for the rest of the evening, whatever sense of confidence that he usually carried himself with now absent and replaced with an unusually heavy dressing of self doubt about his aura. He was the self assured type, always had been and seemed lackluster without such qualities, and in the wake of watching his cousin's halo of black hair occasionally peaking between people, Shisui found himself unable to hang around any longer. For that awkward, nervous feeling he felt unaccustomed to was not going to overcome Uchiha Shisui, no sir, not even slightly. He'd jogged back to his dormitory, changed into clothes he was more comfortable in (that being a pair of stained jeans and a v-neck), and jogged back, hair up in a ponytail, only returning for the purpose of greeting those who'd decided to show and indeed quite surprised to see Itachi still there.

It was more to his character to leave rather than loiter.

He flushed, just barely, with a bit of embarrassment, hooking a thumb in his beltloop and meeting his eyes. "Cara mia."

Itachi tipped his back away, but the movement seemed subtle, almost involuntary, almost as much as the blush that streaked down his face to pool around his neck.

"...why did you leave."

Shisui grinned foxishly, brown eyes almost gold underneath the street lamp and leaning closer to him, inhaling softly. "It was uncomfortable to wear."

"That's a lie."

"Now, now. Don't be so quick to assume that because I'm the one saying it."

"Statistically speaking it is not unwise to do so. And besides that..." Itachi surveyed him, not wanting to tear away from his fingers, but really not liking to be quite so close to him, considering...recent events. Did he have to ooze like that, really. (He did. He really did.)

".......it wasn't my intention," Itachi said, after a significant pause. Shisui surveyed him right back before smiling a coy little smile that only served to suit his face perfectly, reaching out to toy languidly with a lock of Itachi's hair and letting out a little sigh. "I'm coming home with you tonight."

He expected token resistance.

Itachi provided none.

"Fine," he said.



They arrived at Itachi's home around an hour later; the maze of trains and the short stop Shisui made back at his dorm for a toothbrush and change of underwear in and of themselves didn't take such a long time, but getting take out for dinner did. They'd ordered from one of the little holes in the wall that looked like an ideal place for drug deals, and as always, were given far too much food that took an annoyingly long time to cook. Only occasionally did Shisui ever touch him, these little flitters of contact so sweet and so simple they could nearly be considered chaste, bare little touches that made the hair at the back of Itachi's neck stand completely on end and made his spine crawl with cold reaction without fail. Whatever it meant to feel so tossingly negative each time, he was unaware.

"Uwa, have I informed you before you that you are a spoiled little brat and that your home is the bane of my existence?"

"Seems a rather unfortunate bane seeing that I live there, and that it is an inanimate place of residence that can neither reciprocate nor cower in the wake of your feelings." Itachi let them inside with his key and looked away as he held the door open, listening for something before deciding that the coast was clear enough. Their steps echoed along the marble in the entryway, and Itachi changed out of his shoes automatically, even though there was no need.

"Not so unfortunate, seeing how every time I am here, you are here. Up we go."

He pattered along to the elevator, which had been installed by the previous owner, who spent the last few years of his life bound to a wheelchair. It was a nasty little affair, but the man hadn't died here, so everyone operated on the idea that if ghosts did exist, the house was somehow exempt from the rule. He pressed the button and immediately, the doors opened, and they crossed inside, and although it took all of his self control to not drop the takeout they'd waited nearly half an hour for and ravish him right there, Shisui was in a but of a mood by the time they were on Itachi's floor. It was hard to notice, only in that he wasn't vocalizing it, but perhaps the fact that he wasn't vocalizing it only made it more evident. He flopped on Itachi's bed, crossing his legs and pulling his styrofoam box from the plastic bag, popping it open and starting in on the chicken and curry.

Itachi swatted him off his bed because he was an anal-retentive little miscreant who was quite loathe to find anything but cotton fiber between his sheets, and sat himself on the floor; they rarely ate in his room, and it was small, and the strong, damp smell of the food soon filled it up to the window, so that Itachi was obliged to go and open it. The air out side was still, but invasively cold, and it sunk into the room like an ill-mannered guest. They ate in relative silence for a very short while, Itachi picking birdlike at his food and making a small dent in his sticky rice while Shisui watched him.

"...must you stare," Itachi said, interrupting him.

"It's hard not to, I cannot lie. You're gorgeous like a colorless, odorless, tasteless poison."

"...you're completely nonsensical."

Shisui smiled and prodded him in the forehead, swallowing a mouthful of curry that was supposed to be spicy, but food cooked by the Japanese was never spicy enough, and thus it was always only halfway satisfying. He uncapped his waterbottle and washed down the food he'd eaten too fast, which was going to start hurting his stomach within the half hour, and let his eyes drift back to him as he started in on the fried rice and soba. "That may be so. But then again. How is sense unlike a crystal? Madness on the outside, but delicate, perfectly-honed little structures that are as exact as ducks in a row or soldiers at attention?" He slurped a noodle noisily, chewing briefly before swallowing and letting out a contented sigh. "I believe that all things which are truly, defenselessly sane must wear masks of great and deliberate insanity so as to take a place in this cosmos. Because, my love. Crazy people are so much easier to deal with."

"You are incorrect to a point that I assume tapers into pure self-delusion," Itachi said, rubbing at his forehead and wearing a frown. A prawn was balanced between the chopsticks he held in his opposite hand. Shisui only laughed softly, taking a bite of bread and chewing it slowly, legs crossed meditation style and letting out a satisfied little sigh. "Would you like me if I were at all like you?"

"You are like me," Itachi said, dully.

"In what way."

"In nearly every way," Itachi said, setting the prawn down at the side of his styrofoam container, untouched. "In manner of intelligence. In manner of philosophical belief. In manner of heredity and genetics. In manner of collective promise and investment. We are not so dissimilar, either in appearance or in mannerism. ...perhaps in fortune. And, perhaps most of all, in our interactions with other individuals of our race.

"But scientifically speaking, we are very much alike."

Shisui sighed, watching him quiet and, perhaps more strangely, with content. "I disagree. But that is to be expected." And for whatever reason, the conversation made him think of his first kiss. Perhaps it was because he was staring at Itachi's mouth, which would be a pretty sight if it weren't always pressed together in a thin line that meant he was in trouble, but it drew him back to when he was thirteen. His first real kiss, it should be specified, not the little naive kisses because he'd had plenty of those from the time he was four, as he'd been born to be a ladykiller, it seemed. No, the one he had at thirteen was with a girl named Pak Eunmi, who had - in retrospect - looked just like Itachi and had been underdeveloped enough to feel a lot like him too. It had been an awkward kiss, but nobody - including he - could ever forget their first kiss.

He smiled softly, sipping at his water.

When Itachi looked up and caught him staring, again, he did not shift his eyes.

"...what are you thinking of."

"Sucking you off."

Shisui lied so much it could be considered compulsive. Not that Itachi's face didn't make it worth it. Blood shot through his cheeks like rose ink.

"Don't be crude."

Shisui grinned, putting down his food and shutting its lid. "Stay still. I want to try something."

"No." Itachi moved sharply away from him, in a movement so automatic and fluid that it was insulting, but Shisui just laughed. Being told his artwork evoked no emotion, that had been insulting, not because he couldn't take criticism, but because he couldn't take Itachi's criticism when the child showed so little emotion himself that he could be deemed a sociopath. That had been an insult. Itachi jerking away from him, afraid of touch, afraid of him? That wasn't insulting. Shisui laughed in his face, because this person, this perfect little wrath that was a breathing, biotic artwork and an island of himself in ways endearingly similar to the way Shisui was, he was afraid of contact.

Of something so inherently normal.

As natural as nudity.

Shisui grinned and leaned forward, nuzzling his cheek. "It won't hurt and you won't have to take anything off."

Itachi slapped his face away not forcibly; he passed it away from himself by the back of his hand, as if refusing a serving of tea.

"No."

"Why not."

"Because I refused you."

"But why did you refuse me."

"Because I found your proposition unappealing."

Shisui sighed. He was so agitating. Itachi had the ability to give very simple, straightforward answers, in fact, he was. He simply wasn't choosing to actually answer his question, and he hated that about him. He took his left hand in his own, lacing his fingers like it was something curious and obscenely unique, pausing quietly before taking the other and exhaling a small breath. "Nothing to it." Itachi seemed to falter in his certainty. A moment passed before he jerked away, and not nearly violent enough; his hand lingered in its same position before it closed, seeming lonely but reserved, small in it's closed, finite shape. His eyes rested too long on Shisui's hand, so welcoming and innocent in stillness.

"...please," he said, without realizing he said it.

And with that, without warning but with all the affection he could muster, Shisui leaned forward and pecked his lips in a kiss that was so chaste it might as well have been the first one they ever shared. Itachi's breath went sweeping out of him, like birds from the rafters of a Gothic church. His motionlessness felt heavy, but Shisui only smiled that awkward smile of his, the one that reflected his maturity and distance in whatever form it tended to take, and kissed him again, another naive little brush of the lips as he took his hand again and relaced their fingers.

Itachi let him, longer than it seemed he meant, and until the kiss had lengthened almost into something else entirely, and Shisui's body had positioned itself close enough to his that he could feel the heat from his skin, and his breath as it wafted along his upper lift, and he turned away sharply.

Shisui let out a severely disappointed whine, nuzzling his neck and hands moving to his sharp hips. "Itachiiiii."

Itachi moved out from under him as much as his position would allow, skittish and deeply uncomfortable. He refused to look at him, which seemed only to serve to further undermine his pride and make him cross.

"Cousin, what are you doing. Really."

"...why do you pursue physical intimacy with me."

"Because it would be highly beneficial to both of us."

"In what way."

Shisui let out an oh-what-a-bonekiller-you-are-

sweet-love sort of sigh, clapping his hands on either side of his face and leaning forward, pressing all of his weight in and kissing him firm but in a slow, adoring sort of kiss. It was a comfortable he was expecting to end far quicker than necessary, the way their lips moved together adorably warm and languid, no part of him constrained or in pain because none of his clothes were skin tight, everything so natural about it, like they'd been dating forever. And in some manner or another, they had. Shisui pursued intimacy with Itachi because Itachi was in love with him and in severe denial. How could he not be; how could they not be. Even when he sat there like a block of wood, Shisui could feel the tilt to his head, not quizzical or conscious, but so perfect. And the way his lips shivered like that. Ah, so cute.

He sighed, almost wanton, arms wrapping around his neck as he traced his tongue in slow, coy swipes along his lips, fingers digging lazily through the hair at the back of his skull. It vibrated quietly whenever his jaw moved, whenever his vocal chords vibrated like he was going to speak but never did, and Shisui held him close, if not maternally, nuzzling him softly.

No one broke it -- it tapered, naturally, in lieu of breath, and a warm, close proximity. Itachi's eyes weren't closed but they were so glazed that Shisui could see himself even in the whites of them. He scooted a little closer and kissed him twice, the first chaste and closed mouthed, like he was asking for some kind of permission, and the second more intimate, longer and more pressing, holding him in place by his hair but not roughly or harsh.

Itachi didn't fight him - though, for a moment, he sensed might (there was an undue tension in his jaw that he could feel through his mouth). The hair was such a nice trick, in the end. A predictable fetish. Itachi stayed motionless, as if he was waiting for something. But Shisui only swiped at his lips softly, little invasive gestures, hands moving down to his hips to wrap around them and pull him closer into him. (Itachi reminded of things he usually tried not to think about. Like the idea that what went up must come down. That the breakable must always be fixable, that what went around would eventually come back, and that every action had an equal and opposite reaction. Itachi made him believe that these solid, genuine laws weren't true. That he could do something and it could be sent into the oblivion of space and time, that it could genuinely mean nothing and that would be that. That if a tree fell in a forest and when no one was around to hear it, it genuinely did not make a sound.

The empty.

Pointless.

Like a child dying of thirst daring to cry.)

Itachi unhinged them like gears and inhaled sharply through his mouth, although he tried to keep it quiet so that Shisui would not construe it as a gasp (though it was). He blinked, seeming to return to himself, disoriented and dizzy, as if Shisui had been holding him underwater. He backed away, hands pressing at his chest.

"Shisui..."

He ducked into him, kissing him softly, three times over.

"Itachi."

A thin, sharp hand pressed into his throat, and Itachi pushed him away, turning his head as if coming back to himself.

"...stop. Stop."

Shisui sighed sadly.

"Fine."

Itachi eyed him suspiciously, seeming to examine him like an egg for cracks.

"................ but why, I love kissing you."

He shuddered in what seemed like revulsion.

"...do not use that word."

"Why do I repulse you."

"...you do not repulse me. Your actions repulse me."

"No, they don't. You enjoy them and we are both aware of that. Some societal standard that we can't be together makes me repulsive to you. And that is disgusting. You have no reason to submit to that, you're not a part of normal society. You're better than that. You've got the third highest tested IQ of anyone alive, what the fuck does it matter what anyone thinks. It's just you and me against the entire world, and believe it or not, you're going to need me. Despite my apparently being the last thing you want."

Itachi stared at him for what felt like a very long time before reaching out and slapping him half-heartedly across the face.

"...are you. Delusional."

He paused to let his question dangle but continued, as if he did not necessarily want it answered. "Are you daft, what about my actions have portrayed unto you any degree of umbrage taken with the quality of your character. Even when you repeatedly force affections onto me that I have tried my best to communicate are unwelcome, I return to you. I eat with you. I allow you into my home. I attend events I would otherwise not attend. Which of these actions has communicated the contempt you claim?"

"The action involving you being deeply in love with me but still rejecting me."

Itachi balked slightly, making a face like he could spit. "Do not use that word, I will not tell you. Again."

"Why. What's wrong with it."

"...do you understand that-- No." Itachi shook his head vaguely and lowered his voice with his eyes, speaking more to himself. "Evidently, you have failed to deduce from my actions the degree to which I dislike being apart from and ignored by you."

He seemed to mull over this, and then looked up. "I have no understanding of love. None whatsoever. My understanding of the majority of emotions, most especially as pertains to relationships between individuals. But I am very aware of what I do and do not like.

"Do you have even the remotest understanding-- Shisui." He was near hissing between his teeth. "Whose house do I live in."

"That's not a valid arguement!" Shisui's voice was equally quiet, barely above a whisper, but still, the anger in it was unmistakable. Anger and hurt and flurries of emotions that fluttered in the cushioned sky of his consciousness. "Because you hate me to touch you no matter where we are. It's not about fear of your mother and father because no matter how far away from them we are, you still feign paranoia. But it's not about that and if you knew yourself in any fraction of the way that I know you, you would understand that." His white, straight teeth were gritted together, and his fists were clenched, physical reactions to isolate himself from Itachi's words that blatantly contradicted everything he did.

"I hate anyone to touch me," Itachi said, his logic seeming to taper into something frigid. "I have always hated anyone to touch me, you unrepentant fool, and still you insist, endlessly, you insist, and now you insist upon doing things that are socially unacceptable to a degree that may lead to our prolonged separation and so I refuse you that you might get ahold of yourself, you repugnant imbecile."

Shisui blinked as if he'd been struck.

Itachi did not take his eyes from him.

"I cannot make you see through violence. I cannot make you see through peaceable dialogue, or through consistency. What need I do, Shisui. To bludgeon through your thick. Skull."

The eldest said nothing, still just staring back at him, eyes a little wider than usual and hissing all kinds of rage, all kinds of hurt. It was a distance Itachi wasn't used to, couldn't be used to, for all of the cruel flickers in his face that screamed traitor. That screamed How Dare You, because how dare he. Shisui was an emotional creature, a passionate little thing, and Itachi knew that. And was taking advantage of it. It generated a thick unease in Itachi but he managed, to his credit, not to flinch or recoil from him. Shisui was a storm, dark clouds brewing in a thick maelstrom of anger and betrayal that he knew neither how to reason with, nor how to defuse. It made him deeply uncomfortable, and so he schooled himself in preparation for a fight, thinking that this only proved his point, things would be so much easier, so much simpler, if Shisui would just relinquish all of this ridiculousness. There was nothing appealing about this situation, about the arguments, about the abstract complete lack of interest he had in any kind of intimate relationship with anyone, and why did Shisui need this sort of thing of him anyway, why couldn't they return to their simple... But was friendship really the word for it. And didn't this sort of thing indicate that if it was a friendship, Shisui was dissatisfied with its nature. And hadn't he professed to want this all along.

Itachi knew not, and either way the prospect did not interest him at all. He blocked the possibility from his mind because it was an inaccessible area of unexplored blackness that did not draw his curiosity or interest, but rather his avoidance. No, he would rather not think about that at all.

He hardly realized when the beats of silence turned to rhythm of heavy footsteps at the end of the hall.

In a second, Itachi seemed to extinguish entirely.

Shisui backed away from him too fast, drawing back into himself but that unimaginable emotion still coiling in his eyes, picking up his Styrofoam box and returning to his food, eating it in thick mouthfuls without stopping for water as the inevitable knock came to the door. Itachi's forced-calm 'come in', and the knob turned, and he felt Fugaku's looming presence behind him, watching him with the same condescending disgust that his son had stared him down with only seconds before. The prospect only succeeded to piss him off even more, and as he chewed, he felt an unbearable, sudden pain that had him blinking tears as his teeth almost tore through his tongue, every one of his muscles going tense as his nerves alighted with fire and the spices in his mouth collided furiously with the open wound.

"You're here, Shisui?"

He stood up, trying to control the natural reaction to that much sudden pain, fists clenched and holding the box.

"I was just leaving."

In his peripheral vision, he saw Itachi's head whip around, his face painted in an expression of surprise, dismay, and brewing discontent. Shisui did not look at him.

Fugaku did, however. "Itachi. Get dressed. You're to accompany me to the office."

"Now," he added, irritably, when his eldest son remained motionless.

"...of course," Itachi said, so quietly it was remarkable Fugaku heard him.

Part Two.

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