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Hiraeth

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“We got the tail again,” Kisame’s gruff voice broke their otherwise silence. They were walking through a minor city, returning to their lodging for the night after a meal. The city around them was alive, writhing with civilians traveling home to rest from a long days work or to the bars to drink away their long days work. They gave a wide berth to the two shinobi. 

Itachi’s eyes glanced at his partner, a flash of red under the wide brim of his hat. “Is it the same?”

“Seems to be,” Kisame nodded, the bell on the end of his tassel jingling with the motion. 

He frowned. They had been trying to lose this tail for a while. No matter what they did—and neither one were slouches when it comes to hiding their trail; if they didn’t want to be found they wouldn’t be—their pursuer was not deterred, or even slowed down, though they had not yet approached or ambushed them.

If it had been his little brother, Itachi would have been more accepting of their tail. But Sasuke was still with the snake Sannin, gaining what he believed to be the power to defeat him. Itachi hoped he hurried, since his illness was beginning to turn for the worst, and he probably didn’t have much longer. The medication was helping, but it was inevitable at this point. 

“I still think you should just talk to her and be done with it.” Kisame shifted his sword on his back, and gave a grumpy look from under his hat. After the second week of being pursued, Kisame had fallen back to circle around their tail. Instead of returning that evening to say, ‘No longer an issue’ as was his habit for when people started to follow them, he shrugged and told Itachi of a young woman who wished to speak with him. About what, she wouldn’t tell Kisame, but he reported that she seemed to be a little younger than Itachi was, pink haired with green eyes, wore an unmarked Konoha headband, and was in the early stages of pregnancy. Kisame had weird beliefs about attacking let alone killing pregnant women, and only did so as a last resort. As the woman had reportedly not attacked him at all, he had left her tied up and unconscious—but alive and otherwise unharmed. She had caught up to them less than a week later, despite the false trails they left.

Itachi knew that his little brother had been on a genin team with a kunoichi that matched her description, but hadn’t bothered to remember the girl’s name—she wasn’t from a clan, that was as much as he knew. He never personally met the woman, and had no reason to now. He had the brief thought that the pregnancy could have been his brother’s, but that wouldn’t explain how she got pregnant by him in the first place—Sasuke had not left the Land of Sound for years, and no one else had gotten in, even Itachi’s spies, let alone his brother’s former teammate who was rumored to be the apprentice of the current Hokage. Further, why would she search out Itachi? And, importantly, how did she keep finding him? If it was for her village unrelated to his brother, why was she alone? Konoha was not stupid enough to send the woman, a chuunin from reports, against two Akatsuki members, out by herself, while pregnant. Kisame was particularly interested in her reasons, as he could rarely abide by a mystery left untouched, a trait carried over from his time in Mist’s cypher unit. 

“I have nothing to say to her.” He dismissed. He had severed nearly all ties with his village, and the only remaining one was Jiraiya, who didn’t even know it was Itachi feeding him information about the criminal organization Akatsuki. 

“Yeah, but if you talk with her, find out what she wants, maybe she’ll stop tracking us.” He needled, not for the first time.

Itachi glanced at him again, saying nothing. 

“Look, I’d rather not remove her legs, and I will if she won’t stop following us. Besides, if anyone else finds out about her stalking habit, like Leader-sama, she’ll be killed right out and I just don’t want that to happen to a little fish.”

It wasn’t Pein that he was worried about finding out, but Madara. He would do a lot worse than simply kill her, especially if she was somehow connected to either Sasuke or himself. Or even if she wasn’t, and he just believed she was and that it could be used against either of them. 

Itachi stopped, and took a deep breath of the slightly dirty air, ignoring the sharp sting in his lungs. It would start to rain soon and clean the soot from the air, making it easier to breathe, but not entirely. He always had difficulties these days. Kisame stopped with him, and watched expectantly. He knew Itachi better than he was completely comfortable with, though they had an unspoken agreement about a lot of things, and they respected one another enough that it still worked. He closed his aching eyes for the briefest moment.  

“Fine,” He exhaled completely before he opened his gaze again, meeting the shark-like eyes of his partner, “Take me to her.”

Their direction changed smoothly, Kisame following Samehada’s sense of the woman’s chakra. They were led to a smaller hotel, near the center of town, but on the poorer side. The building was tall, but narrow, without visible balconies, and few windows. They entered into the lobby, and Kisame took the hat Itachi handed him. The clerk was obviously intimidated by them, and didn’t make any move to stop or question as Itachi turned to take the stairs alone. The town they were in had no resident shinobi; this close, he could sense her chakra himself and no longer needed his partner’s guidance. 

She was on the second to the top floor, in a room slightly larger than the average; likely a suite, but not the best one. He paused before the door, considering. She seemed to be by herself, as she had been since they first noticed her on their trail. The door was not trapped, and there was no hint of a genjutsu or ninjutsu around the edges of the door. His vision had deteriorated significantly, but the sharingan—both the cure and the poison—allowed him to see the details of the faded paint on the door and the brass handle that tilted a little too far down to be functioning perfectly, even if it was layered in a way normal vision didn’t work. 

Her chakra was suppressed, but only to the point where Itachi couldn’t properly gauge how much she had; a deliberate thing he knew well. He could feel it flicker slightly, just on the other side of the wall. Was it in anticipation? Fear? She obviously knew he was here, despite his own completely cloaked chakra and his silent steps. 

The door wasn’t locked. He turned the handle and pushed the door open. 

Itachi swept the room with his sharingan, looking for traps or tricks, but found nothing out of place. The room was a suite, as he suspected, with a separate sitting and sleeping area, and a tiny kitchen adjacent. It was older, but clean enough, though a crack in the wall spidered out near the ceiling. There were decorations in the room, designed to make it seem more homey than the usual hotel; a low shelf with a fake potted plant and photo, a thin table with a browning phone on top, and a few easily replaceable nicknacks scattered about. There was a larger window along the far wall, easily openable and not made with shinobi in mind. The woman sat at the single table, chair slightly pulled out to better face the door. 

She was a slight thing, with pink hair hanging just under her chin, tied back from her face with her unmarked Konoha headband. Her top was bright red, kimono style with a large black obi completely covering her abdomen from under her breasts to her hips, and narrow sleeves that flare out at the wrist. Her pants were simple and black, tied with white wrappings tucked into her sandals. She wore a medic-nin’s apron, colored a light pink, with pockets for her tools of the trade, though the utility belt that usually accompanied such was not immediately visible. She carried no visible weapons, not even a kunai pouch. She was beautiful, in a sweet, softer way unexpected in a ninja, who tended towards sharp edges even in their appearances. Strangely, there was a deep purple mark on her face, staining down her chin and curling underneath it. It didn’t look to be a scar or burn, and was oddly shaped to be a tattoo. It must be a birthmark, he concluded, though he couldn’t recall such from the graduation picture he had pilfered of his little brother’s genin team years ago. Maybe it was just an odd bruise. Jutsu markings were normally symmetrical, like the lighter purple flower-like one on her forehead (and that was interesting all on its own).

Her stomach was only barely rounded, just on the beginning stage of her pregnancy—earlier than he was expecting from Kisame’s reaction. Probably first trimester, or early second. It may not have been noticeable at all, excepting that the obi was something he recognized as a piece of shinobi armor, specifically designed for pregnant women to protect their vulnerable midsection, and her hands were cupped protectively over her belly in the almost unique manner of women who carried children under their skin. 

He looked up and met her shockingly vibrant green eyes, and only allowed himself to blink once in surprise as she maintained eye contact with him. Her face wasn’t overly clear, the chakra/future/present layering effect of the sharingan preventing a perfect view of her face, but he could still tell her mouth was pressed tight as she looked at him in abject sorrow. 

“It is you,” she whispered, her voice breaking the silence of the room. She clutched her belly with more intensity.

Itachi didn’t allow his face to change, even if it was still mostly hidden behind his cloak’s neck opening. He stepped into the room finally, and closed the door behind him. 

She didn’t tense or react at all to being trapped in the same limited space as him, and he filed that thought away. She undoubtedly knew who he was, and what he had done; her position as his brother’s teammate would have made such knowledge common, let alone her position as the Hokage’s apprentice. Her lack of reaction to his proximity was... interesting. Foolish, but interesting.

He let the silence stretch as he watched her watch him, using his dwindling peripheral vision to further examine the room. He also took the opportunity to layer some genjutsu between them, not enough to catch her just yet, but could be activated with a flick of his finger. The carpet was old, but not worn, and there was a slightly stale smell. The rain outside had begun to fall, visible from the lone window. He noticed her bag, lying propped against the bed, with her discarded tool belt folded neatly next to it. A kunai and two shuriken holsters were placed there as well, as if purposefully put aside for his perusal. They were far enough away from her position that he knew she’d never reach them before he could get to her. 

When he was done examining the room and she still hadn’t said anything else, he spoke instead, “What do you want?”

He knew his sharingan were spinning lazily, maintaining the preparatory genjutsu, but she still showed no signs of fear meeting his gaze. He wondered if she even fully understood just how dangerous that was—Sasuke’s hadn’t been fully developed before he left, and Hatake’s was a shadow of what a real one could do, what his could do. She couldn’t be stupid; a medic-nin couldn’t survive being so, let alone survive being apprenticed under the best medic-nin of their time. She was foolish, regardless.

“Confirmation,” Her voice was heavy with her emotions. She swallowed thickly before she continued. “I found in a bingo book that Uchiha Itachi was the sole person responsible for the slaughter of nearly the entire Uchiha clan, that he was an S-class nukenin, a member of the criminal organization Akatsuki, with a flee on sight order.”

He just blinked at her unexpected phrasing, cocking his head slightly as he continued to watch her. He knew exactly what his bingo book entry said, and knew that only two people alive today knew the truth about him and he didn’t want that to change. He remained silent. 

“Do you have it?” His eyes narrowed a fraction. She pressed on, her voice soft but holding a hint of desperation, “The mangekyou?”

He debated for a moment to reveal his doujutsu. Two of her teammates had intimate knowledge of his bloodline ability, since he had used it against them; she should be well aware not only of its existence, but of what it was capable of. Nevertheless, if she wished to look into death, he could easily oblige. 

His eyes twisted silently into the bladed tomoes of the highest level sharingan, her features finally sharpening completely into focus. He was able to watch as her hand came up to cup her mouth, detailed enough to see fingernails slightly chipped and broken, and to track the way the tears rolled down her cheeks. Finally, she looked frightened, but not nearly as scared as she should be. She looked closer to crushed, like the last bit of hope had been removed with this reveal. “I had thought…” Her voice caught, and she choked back a sob as he watched in perfect clarity. 

He allowed his eyes to remain in their form a heartbeat longer before dropping back into the lesser form of the sharingan, already feeling the headache brush against the back of his skull. It’d have been worse had he used any of his abilities, but he was long since used to the pain. 

Itachi turned from her then, not wanting to watch a strange woman cry. He took a few steps further into the room, feeling her eyes follow him, and stopped before one of the shelves as if the nicknacks there held his attention. The silence, only disturbed by her muffled whimpers, stretched long enough that he finally broke it himself. “How did you find me?”

She took a deep, audible breath, swallowing, and continued with a completely unexpected thread, “I am not from here.”

His eyes flicked back to her, and he saw her finally looking away from him, down towards her belly. He wondered what she meant by that; she was from Konoha, true, and they were currently in the Land of Rivers, but he didn’t think that’s what she meant, though he couldn’t pinpoint why. 

“I fell asleep one night at home, in my husbands’ arms, just over a month ago. It had been a normal day, before. I went to work at the hospital, he went to train, we had dinner, talked about the future.” Her voice broke a bit on the last word. She heaved another breath, inhaling through her nose to release from her mouth, a visible effort to calm herself. “I awoke in a bed not my own, alone, surrounded by pictures of myself that I could not remember being taken.”

Itachi kept his features turned away from her, though he remained focused on her every movement in case she turned hostile. There was an impersonal picture of a waterfall framed on the shelf, and in the dusty reflection of the glass he could just see her hand shake as it brushed back her pink strands. One of the things he learned in his time is to allow others to monologue; they usually revealed more than they meant to, if not interrupted. He was not rushed for time, so he granted her enough rope to hang herself with as he idly began gathering the dust with his fingertips. 

“I fled easily enough; there hadn’t been any guard posted where I awoke, it was a simple apartment. I was in Konoha, my home, but… not. I was in the civilian district rather than my clan’s. So I went h-home,” her voice stuttered, and Itachi pondered that it had been probably a genjutsu cast on her. Either to hide what had been, or to convince her what hadn’t had. It would have to have been fairly powerful, to have lasted since before she even pursued them, and to change her perception of her home so drastically. 

“When I got there, it—it was empty of everything but ghosts. The gardens were overgrown or dead, the buildings were beginning to crumble in disrepair. My home had been… the house was different. Furniture that we had replaced, the remodeling of the kitchen we did, stains of… I, I knew something was very wrong, so I went into defensive mode; I had to find out what was going on.”

He only knew of one clan home in Konoha that would have matched that description of abandonment and death, though he said nothing despite the unease he felt blooming in his chest. He glanced at her again, absently rubbing his fingers together to disperse the gathered dust on them. She caught the gesture, eyes moving to the now partially-dusted shelf, and her mouth twisted in a way he didn’t know how to interpret. He dropped his hand, letting his long sleeve fall to cover it. 

“The people I met… they were not my people. People I lived next to, spoke with, fought alongside, for years were different. Strangers wearing family’s faces. They knew things that I didn’t, and didn’t know things I did. They—they told me my clan, my family, were dead as if it was old news, happened more than a decade past rather than the night before. I fled, knowing if I stayed they’d not trust me to be who I am more than I did them. I had to protect my child, so I ran.”

A stronger sense of disquiet moved through him, but he didn’t allow it to show. It took a very powerful user to convince someone for so long that their closest connections were false—a mangekyou user. He could think of only one other such person alive, but Madara had not even hinted of such capability. Shisui had been able to cast such a genjutsu, without the victim even being aware. But Shisui was dead, and he knew where his eyes were. Danzo would have no reason to send her to him, if that eye was even still functioning, and his crow was still safe.

Itachi shifted around the edge of the room to look out the window, seeing her track his motion even as she didn’t raise her head to look at him. It was a smart decision for her to escape from Konoha, from an outside standpoint. He was somewhat surprised she recognized it enough not to run to her master and seek help, as was possibly the techniques’ purpose. Ninja villages were always on the lookout for infiltrators, imposters who take over the lives of one of their own to steal secrets. If she hadn’t known the correct responses, the correct memories, she would have likely been interrogated without regards to her well being. He was uncertain how the Godaime would act, if it was suspected her own disciple had been compromised. Danzo, however… that was one who he knew very well, one who wouldn’t let a thing like attachment cloud judgement on a suspected infiltrator. If he hadn’t been the one to cast it on her, as Itachi doubted he was, he’d have made certain she disappeared and wasn’t seen again. 

“Naruto-kun found me by chance, of course; he always has amazing luck when it suits him. We spoke, argued, and he told me about the Uchiha, about Sasuke and his abandonment of Konoha, about you.” He noted the strange tone, “After he found out about my pregnancy, he… He promised to let me be, to try and prevent others from finding me, so I left him as well. I picked up a bingo book the first chance I could and… and read your entry.”

Itachi could see her in the reflection now better than he could from the picture frame. The night outside was dark, streetlamps and windows a glow, but not enough to prevent the almost mirror like reflection on the glass. She sat twisted in her seat, watching him with that particular look he knew too well; as if he had betrayed her personally. He had betrayed a lot of people, but she was not one of them. He owed her nothing.

“My husband is a good man,” she stressed, switching topics abruptly, “He loves his family, his clan, above all else. He’d do anything for them. He was so excited to be a father,” she dropped her head, her face twisting harshly. She curled into herself, hunching over her belly protectively, “He was one of the most powerful shinobi in the village, and was being groomed to be the next Hokage. It had been his dream since he was young, to help foster peace in Konoha and the surrounding lands.”

He raised an eyebrow at that, the only expression he thus far allowed himself. He wouldn’t have paid any attention to nor cared about the personal life of his brother’s genin teammate, but he definitely would have heard of someone being prepped to take over from the Godaime Hokage. He wondered then how much of her mind was twisted from the genjutsu and how much was real. She certainly seemed like she believed it, her pulse and chakra matching her expression as she spoke. Her pregnancy also wasn’t faked; his sharingan could see the involuntary deviation of chakra around her belly that indicated gravidity, but the rest? How long has this technique been applied to her? For what purpose? And why did that cause her to seek him out to ask questions anyone from her village could answer?

She was looking at him again, eyes flickering over the visible part of his face in the reflection of the window as if expecting a response, but to what he didn’t know. His heart did twist slightly at the woman’s situation, at whatever cruel joke someone was playing on her—he didn’t know what gain someone would get to play it—but it was not his responsibility to solve it. In fact, he shouldn’t even be here in the first place. He should have just put her into a genjutsu the moment he entered the room, placing a compulsion on her to return home. Then Konoha would take her back and solve whatever thing that bound her mind… or would not solve it, but it would be out of his hands. 

He still didn’t do so now.

“You have not answered my question,” he spoke once more, after the silence had nearly swallowed the room. “How did you find me?”

Her eyes dropped, disappointment clear. She heaved a breath before speaking, “There is something else different about this place. In my… where I came from, we have soulmates. It’s as common, and defined as the sun rising.” He couldn’t help himself but frown slightly at the non-sequenture, and turned to face her again in disbelief. The concept was not new to him, but it was better delegated to the romance novels he used to see his mother read. Soulmates didn’t exist, did she expect him to believe something so outlandish? “It’s one of the ways I knew something was very wrong when I awoke; everyone, even those I knew intimately who had not found their soulmate yet, were missing their marks, or had married different people. No one even knew what I was talking about, even in my travels so far.

“My husband was my soulmate. We met when I was fifteen, and we have been together since.” She touched her right wrist, and took a breath, “Soulmates, once they bond, tend to develop… abilities, particularly among the shinobi. Some gain the chakra reserves or the control of the other, some get a type of empathy between them. It’s different between each pair.”

As she took another breath, catching slightly on the way in, Itachi kept his own smooth with effort. His instincts were prickling, warning him of a closing trap he couldn’t yet see. 

“For me and my husband…” she raised her gaze and locked eyes with him, bright green clashing with blood red, “No matter where we traveled, we could always find one another.”

Itachi went utterly still. “No.”

“Your favorite dessert is dango and cabbage is your favorite vegetable. You prefer rainy days to sunny, because you like how the rain smells and how quiet it can get. You’re shy, which people tend to think as you being standoffish, but you have a dry sense of humor for those who are close to you. You’re fastidious, and cleaning things calms you. You twirl a kunai in your hand when you read, but not when you read mission reports. Your favorite thing to wake up to in winter is a fresh layer of snow outside from a warm bed.”

He didn’t even realize he moved until his back struck the shelf against the far wall, causing the weak fixture to tumble to the ground with a clatter. He didn’t know how she learned those facts about him, those absurd facts that would not be recorded anywhere because they held no value, facts that no one alive still knew about him. His eyes hadn’t been good enough to read for pleasure in longer than he’s been partnered with Kisame. 

“I am not your husband,” he hissed fiercely. His breath was coming in harshly, his eyes spinning, his heart thumping rapidly in his chest. Was it a jutsu to learn these from him? No, his eyes would have seen the chakra used long before it came into effect on him. Bloodline ability? He had never heard of such a thing, and this would have been something his village would have cultivated, and he’d have known about it. Without his conscious decision, his gaze dropped down to her stomach, and he recoiled again, his mind jerking to that horrifying conclusion, “I am not your husband!

She continued, her voice breaking over a sob, dropping her face again as if she couldn’t bare to look at his blatant rejection, “You correctly guessed Sasuke’s gender before his birth, despite your parents certainty of a girl.” She breathed in sharply, tears in her voice, “You said to me that you wished for a girl, but that you’re sure we’re having a boy.” 

He appeared before her in a blink, one hand yanking her from her seat by her shirt, the other gripping her chin and forcing her to look at him. She cried out in shock at his sudden movement, and he calculated he had a half second before she got her wits back to her and reacted. He knew exactly how to sever the genjutsu cast on her, if only temporarily, to get to the real reason she was here. Was it Madara? They had an agreement between them, an uneasy peace. Why would he do this? How much did he know about him? Was this an attempt to trick him? Lay a trap with an outlandish story, a sympathetic bait, and try to ensnare him? For what?

Fool that she was, she still met his eyes without fear. “Tsukuyomi.” 

XXXXX

In his ultimate genjutsu, he controlled everything. Other jutsu, voluntarily or involuntary, couldn’t affect anything unless he allowed it. He knew when people lied to him, he knew when they were hiding things from him, he sensed their emotions, their desires, their fears. 

He had her bound with thick iron, forced into a bowed kneeling position at his feet. She initially resisted out of instinct, startlement at the sudden change, though he would not allow her even an inch. “This is my Tsukuyomi,” he told her, keeping his voice detached as he hadn’t been able to in the room. She tensed completely as he spoke, breath harsh against the blackened ground. “There is no escape from this unless I allow it.” He shook his hand, trying to dispel the odd tingling from his fingers. 

He walked around her, keeping his steps even, smooth. She settled into her position, trembling from stress, and though he made two circuits around her, she didn’t say anything, just breathed harshly. While not visible from her positioning, he knew tears were still falling down her face, though she didn’t start to plead with him as so many others had. He didn’t allow a frown that wanted to show itself. “Tell me who sent you.”

“No one sent me.” Her voice was rough, but firm. Honest. 

“Tell me how you knew those things.” Itachi absently flexed his wrist, making another circuit of the woman.

“You told me.”

He lashed out as quick as a blink, stabbing down with a katana close enough to her face that some of her hair was cut free from her brow. The blade buried itself into the floor, and he left it there, even as she flinched out of instinct away from it. “I do not appreciate liars.”

“I am not lying.” Her voice was shaking, but she was telling the truth, as far as she knew. 

His genjutsu circumvented everything else, even another mangekyou’s doujutsu. He had eliminated previous spies from Madara using it, even if they hadn’t even been aware of the elder Uchiha’s contact. 

“So you believe you have been transported from a different reality from this one? Just one day awoke here?”

“Yes.” She said, tasting of the truth even as he rejected it.

He supposed hadn’t yet encountered true brainwashing in this ability that he had been aware of. Someone could have worked this girl over, convinced her of the falsities using non-jutsu techniques, so much so that they replaced her reality. In ANBU, he was taught how to counteract such by putting something she felt extremely strongly about against whatever lies she had been told. He didn’t think she was scared enough, as he rotated his elbow. Perhaps she needed stronger motivation.

He changed the world in a blink, wrapping one hand around her neck firmly, while the other held a kunai to her navel. He felt her jerk, felt the vibration in her throat against his thumb as she choked back a scream before she went still as he threateningly pressed the blade against where she was most protective, hard enough to just pierce the skin. Her hands were bound against her chest, locked out of the way, and her feet only touched the floor enough to give her the slightest grip with her toes as he held her in an arch against him. “No, no, please.” Finally, she begged. 

“I have no qualms with killing kin,” he lied, keeping his voice as smooth as silk. She wouldn’t have been able to tell, not in his Tsukuyomi, nor even in real life no matter her claim. Itachi had always been a very good liar. His shoulder itched. “Even if your story is true, what good were you looking for, seeking me out?”

She shook, forceful enough it was reflected in her voice, “I... I just had to know. Please, no. I couldn’t just—he was my husband. Please don’t, please!”

He breathed once, testing her level of fear, desperation, and honesty. “Your curiosity is sated. I am not your husband.” With that he stabbed through, feeling her scream as much as hearing it. 

His heart hurt. 

XXXXX

He broke the Tsukuyomi and shoved the woman away in the same motion. He turned and began to leisurely walk away, even as she cried out like a wounded animal, collapsing to the ground behind him in a clatter of her overturned chair. He felt her chakra activate for the first time, trying to heal the stab wound that was not there. 

He paused before he exited the room, looking over his shoulder at her. She was finally was too scared to meet his gaze, keeping her face averted with her pink strands casting a shadow over her eyes. She had raised one hand and held her chin, tears dripping down. 

“Do not follow me again.” He waited for her to nod, then left as easily as he came, clicking the door shut behind him. 

He was just as silent going down the stairs as he had been coming up them. He walked into the lobby, and Kisame perked up from where he was chatting with an overly made up woman, likely a whore. The former Mist ninja paused mid-sentence, then flowed towards him without a backwards glance, leaving the woman huffing behind him at her failed mark. Itachi made it out the door and into the downpour outside before he caught up, not even a spare thought to wait for his rain hat.

Itachi was very, very good at masking his emotions. It was what helped him be such a good liar, even in a world trained to look for them. 

Kisame, however, had known him for a long time, and searched out secrets and truths like a shark after blood. “So I take it she didn’t want to chat about the weather?”

Itachi didn’t even glance at him, walking with determination towards the other side of town where they had taken their residence for the evening. “She will no longer follow us.”

Normally, Kisame would have pressed, egging for details, seeking an end to the mystery. But this time, he just looked at him, and let the silence to fall. Itachi couldn’t even bring himself to mind that he was allowing his disquiet to show, he was just grateful for the silence. He inhaled slowly, deeply and painfully, breathing in the fresh scent of the rain in the quiet of the night.

He could sense where she was.