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shake off the shadows

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This, Omoi is willing to admit, is just about as bad as this particular situation can get.

He breathes carefully, because deep breaths strain the open cuts across his shoulders, and closes his eyes, swallowing against his dry throat. Thirsty, and it’s logical, but—it seems like such a small thing to worry about, in the scheme of thing.

Yugito is sprawled out in the cell across from him, unconscious, unmoving. For the first time in as long as he can remember, Omoi thinks thank everything she’s alive, instead of what if this gets worse. It’s not much of a relief, but it’s something. Omoi is willing to take just about anything at this point.

He can't decide if it’s a good thing or not that he stayed for the night instead of immediately heading back to Kumo after delivering his message to Yugito. On the one hand, she might have been able to get away if she’d been alone. On the other, they might have killed her outright, instead of taking both her and Omoi to use as leverage against each other. In the hopes of getting information about B, Omoi knows, but—

Do they know that the bijuu can talk to each other? Do they know that every minute Yugito spends in their presence is another bit of information passed along to Gyūki, and then to B and A?

If they don’t, Omoi certainly isn't going to be the one to tell them, regardless of what they try to do to him.

Gingerly, he settles back against the stone behind him, tugging a little on the manacles holding his hands above his head. They're not budging any more than they have the last ten dozen times he’s tested them, but Omoi keeps trying. That’s what shinobi do. That’s what Darui and Samui and Karui would yell at him to do, and focusing on that is enough to keep some of the panic at bay.

What if he pulls too hard, though? What if he pulls the anchor right out of the stone and causes an avalanche?

Omoi breathes out, managing a wry smile at himself. At least then his hands would be free. That’s…honestly not such a bad scenario, if it ends with him having the chance to escape.

In the other cell, there's a breath, the barest shift. Omoi goes still, watching Yugito with narrowed eyes, but she’s been a shinobi twice as long as he has; if she’s awake he can't tell. He hopes she is, because the Nibi on their side will be a big help were getting out of here is concerned, but there are so many risks, too. If they try and fail, Akatsuki might decide to extract the Nibi right away, then focus their energies on making Omoi talk. He’s strong, but—everyone breaks eventually, when a torturer knows what they're doing, and that Suna missing-nin seems to know precisely how to cause the most pain possible. His poisons aren’t something Omoi ever wants to deal with again.

Before he can even start to relax again, footsteps sound in the corridor, a deliberate warning, and Omoi tenses all over again, hoping beyond reason that it’s not Sasori coming back for another round with his favorite non-lethal poisons, or Itachi with his seventy-two hours of torment in the space of three seconds. Omoi won't let himself shake, but he hates the Sharingan with a passion he’s never hated anything with before. Three days of torture, and none of it’s real but it feels that way. Omoi's nightmares say it’s real.

His breath is coming too fast, but he’s not going to panic. This is interrogation, and he’s a shinobi of Kumo. He can hold out longer than this. Yugito will wake up, and she’s a jounin; she’s a jinchuuriki. She’ll have some kind of plan, the ability to get them out of this base, whisk them back to Kumo, and then Omoi is going to curl up under his bed in the dark and cry where no one will ever be able to see him.

It’s not Sasori or Itachi, though. The boy who rounds the corner is a little older than Omoi, tall and smiling, and he looks like an Uchiha, just built along different lines than Itachi. Omoi hasn’t seen him before, but he’s wearing Akatsuki’s signature cloak, and his eyes are red and black pinwheels, jagged-edged and frightening. Kumo doesn’t have dojutsus, and Omoi has never been grateful for it before, but he thinks he’s never going to be able to meet anyone’s eyes ever again if he gets out of here.

“Good morning!” the Uchiha says cheerfully, and casts a glance over at Yugito's still body before he presses his thumb to the seal locking Omoi's cell. The door clicks open, and he steps in without hesitation, making Omoi tense. He eyes the distance between his sandals and the Uchiha's, assessing his ability to foul the other boy’s feet and trip him up, but the Uchiha stops just out of range, watching him with a smirk that says he knows exactly what Omoi is thinking.

“You're looking livelier than I expected,” the Uchiha says, and his tone is light but those red-and-black eyes are sharp as he crouches down, putting himself on eye-level with Omoi. “Itachi said he cut back on the Tsukuyomi so you wouldn’t end up in a coma, but I didn’t really expect you to be conscious, I’ll admit.”

Omoi has seen a red moon and a greyscale world every time he’s closed his eyes since Itachi stepped out of his cell. His breath comes ragged, traced with a thread of anger underneath that’s largely unfamiliar, not something he normally indulges in. easy to be angry right now, though, when the Uchiha is pulling a knife from his wide sleeve, smiling like they're friends, and reaching into his cloak with the other. Omoi goes stiff, rocks back in his chains as that hand emerges, ready for—

An apple. A plain yellow apple, bright and fresh in the lamplight, resting in the Uchiha's palm like a taunt. Omoi hasn’t eaten in days, and right now that apple is the most tempting thing he’s ever seen. He wrenches his eyes up, over to the knife as it moves, but it doesn’t lash out. Sinks into the apple instead, carving a piece off, and then the Uchiha asks, “If I get close enough to feed you, are you going to kick me?”

“I’ll probably try,” Omoi admits, but he licks his cracked lips, bangs his head back against the stone a few times in self-recrimination, and then adds truthfully, “Only after you feed me, though.”

The Uchiha laughs, rocking forward onto his knees between Omoi's legs, and it’s a smart position; at this range, with his feet chained and the Uchiha resting his weight on the chain between them, Omoi won't be able to get the leverage to hurt him. He swallows hard, but the Uchiha doesn’t do anything except lean forward, offering the apple slice in his fingers.

“Sorry,” he says, even as Omoi cautiously takes it, halfway expecting to get backhanded with the knife. “Konan was in the kitchen, so I couldn’t get anything more substantial.”

The first bite explodes flavor and juice across Omoi's tongue, and it takes all of his self-control not to make an indecent noise, not to gulp it down. He swallows carefully instead, still watching the Uchiha warily, and asks, “When does the genjutsu start?”

The Uchiha doesn’t even blink, and there's no trace of offense in his face. “It doesn’t,” he says lightly. “Tsukuyomi is Itachi's specialty, not mine. I just want to give you something to eat.” As if to prove his words, he cuts another slice of apple, slipping it into Omoi's mouth when he opens it to scoff. Omoi is too hungry to spit it back in his face, which is probably what C would do. C usually knows the most appropriate thing to do at any given moment. Omoi should probably make a point to listen to him more often, if he survives this.

He probably definitely won't, though.

“So what’s your specialty, then?” he asks, and the burn of split skin makes him shift forward on instinct, away from the stone. It’s only after he does it that he realizes it could be taken as the start of an attack, and freezes.

The Uchiha grins at him, but doesn’t otherwise move. “Mine? I'm Shisui, and I can control people. Implant suggestions, make them do whatever I want, and they’ll think it was their own idea all along.”

Omoi goes cold, breath tangling in his chest, and he jerks back, pain exploding through his arms and shoulders as he hits the stone. There’s no getting away, though; Shisui drops the knife, and his empty hand hits the wall as he leans in, those pinwheel eyes all Omoi can see. He snaps his own eyes shut, wrenching his head around, but Shisui drops the apple in his lap, catches his chin in one hard hand and pulls him back around. His breath slants over Omoi's lips, and then his mouth catches Omoi's in a quick, teasing kiss. It’s startling enough that Omoi's eyes fly open, just for the barest instant, but—

That’s all the opening Shisui needs.

The world turns backwards, a strange jolt shuddering through Omoi's chest. There's a twist, and he’s suddenly standing in an open plain. The moon overhead is white, not red, but he jerks away, ready to find himself bound to a post, Itachi in front of him with his tantō drawn.

Hands around his wrists catch him, haul him back in. “Easy, easy!” Shisui says, and this isn't the smiling villain from the cell; he looks desperate now, raw and just as terrified as Omoi feels. There are lines in his face, bags under his eyes like he hasn’t slept well in years, and his Akatsuki robe is entirely absent. Instead, he’s wearing a Konoha uniform, hitai-ate bright and obvious around his forehead. He pulls Omoi in, doesn’t let him retreat, and the change is so great the Omoi forgets to fight back, doesn’t even try to resist as Shisui drops to his knees, pulling Omoi down to the ground with him.

Please,” Shisui says, ragged. “This is the only way we can talk without someone listening. It won't take any time in the real world, I swear. I'm sorry about the kiss, I just—I need you to listen to me.”

“About what?” Omoi asks suspiciously. “And couldn’t you just make me listen to you, with your Sharingan?”

“I could,” Shisui admits, meeting his eyes squarely. “You’re going to have to pretend that I did, once this genjutsu is over, or Madara is going to realize what really happened.”

Madara?” Omoi splutters, can't even begin to contain the reaction, because Uchiha Madara is in Akatsuki? He’s leading it? Kumo has spent all this time convinced that it was Kiri in charge, or exiled Kiri nin. But if it’s under the control of Madara, famous enough that even seventy years after his death the whole world still knows his name, that’s something else entirely.

“Madara,” Shisui confirms, and his hands loosen on Omoi's wrists, slide up to catch his hands instead and grip them tightly. “The Nibi’s jinchuuriki should wake up soon. I slipped her an antidote while Itachi was working on you, and it should be kicking in now. That’s all I can do, but there's a tunnel out of the base that’s one floor up and ten degrees north of here, in a big room with a throne. Get there as fast as you can and get out. Most of the teams are on missions right now, but Sasori, Deidara, and Itachi are still here, and Deidara can make his creations fly.”

That’s…precisely the information Omoi needs to stage a rescue. He swallows, curls his fingers over Shisui's and meets that dark, desperate gaze. “Why are you helping?” he asks, bewildered.

Shisui's smile is wry. “Because I'm a spy. Because if I let Akatsuki get any of the bijuu I've failed my village, and I won't let that happen.”

A spy. That makes sense, by way of making no sense at all. “Konoha knows?” he asks.

“Most things.” Shisui's smile falters into something tired, and his shoulders dip. “I'm—I'm trying, but things are happening too fast. Madara's getting suspicious, and he won't see me anymore unless Itachi is with him. I have no idea if Itachi is—is on my side or his, but he’s not talking to Konoha and I can't—”

His voice breaks, and on instinct Omoi reaches out, catches his shoulder. Shisui leans into his grip, a sound of strangled frustration vibrating in his throat.

“Come with us,” Omoi says, and it’s a whim, but—he means it. “If Madara's already suspicious, he’s going to know it was you that let us out. You’ve been here a while already, you know more about Akatsuki than anyone on the outside. You're more valuable out there than in here.”

Shisui stares at him, eyes wide, and then lets his head fall, rubbing at his eyes. “I need—Kotoamatsukami is my last chance to stop this,” he protests.

“You haven’t gotten the chance to use it yet,” he says, and Samui deals with spies, with interrogation. Omoi's helped her enough to know that Shisui is on the verge of cracking right down the middle. “If they suspect you they're not going to give you a chance no matter how long you stay.” He can see Shisui wavering, the conflict on his face, and smiles a little. Offers, “I'm pretty sure taking my first kiss and then going on a suicide mission is bad form.”

It makes Shisui laugh, and his smile is apologetic. “Sorry,” he says. “It was kiss you or stab you, and I figured Sasori had already done enough of that.”

“I'm grateful,” Omoi says dryly. “Why don’t you come explain it to the Raikage with me? He’s not going to be happy about losing his bet.”

“The Raikage has a bet about who your first kiss was going to be?” Shisui sounds like he isn't sure he should laugh about that or not.

Omoi just shrugs. “He thought it would be my teammate Karui,” he says. “Darui got him into it. They're a pain.” Darui had promptly apologized to everyone in hearing, and especially Omoi, but didn’t actually withdraw his bet, so Omoi takes that with a grain of salt.

There's a long pause as Shisui stares at him, and then he takes a breath, rubs his hands over his face again, and nods once, quickly. “Okay,” he whispers. Laughs, ragged and fractured around the edges, and says, “I guess that makes it a lot easier to get you your sword back.”

Relief rushes through Omoi, and he groans. “Thank you. Samui would have killed me if I lost it already.”

“Well, we can't have that.” Shisui smiles at him, then clasps his wrist and rises to his feet. “I left if outside the cells, leaning by the door. Madara's in the room with us, though, so you're going to have to act like I brainwashed you, okay? Just until the jinchuuriki wakes up, and he leaves. I'm going to ask you questions about Kumo's defenses, and you need to actually tell me. Madara already knows all of it, anyway.”

The thought sits wrong in Omoi's stomach, but—he’s willing to trust Shisui. Maybe it’s stupid, but he wants to believe him. “All right,” he says.

Shisui gives him a strained smile, then raises a hand, shaping a Ram seal. “Brace yourself,” he warns, and—

The world inverts.

Omoi opens his eyes, and the Sharingan is all he can see, spinning crimson and black. Shisui's lips are on his, warm and a little chapped, his hand is on Omoi's chin, and the curls of his hair brush Omoi's cheeks for a moment before he draws back, smirking. Omoi stays where he is, breathing carefully. He doesn’t know what brainwashed is supposed to look like, so he mostly goes for dazed. It’s easier than it might be otherwise, with the taste of Shisui's mouth on his.

“You get off on watching or something?” Shisui asks, and that tone so different from the worn teenager Omoi met a moment ago that he almost can't believe it’s the same person. Harsh, a little cruel, laughing at the whole world like it’s one great big joke put on for his amusement.

A figure in the shadow stirs, and a man with long, wild black hair steps out, red eyes spinning, mouth a vicious line. “Did it work?” he demands.

“One way to find out,” Shisui says cheerfully, and he still has one hand braced against the wall over Omoi's shoulder. It makes it easy for him to lean in, pausing just a few inches from Omoi, and he’s still smirking, but—

Now that he knows what to look for, Omoi can see the apology hidden in his eyes.

“Hey,” Shisui says, and that tone is blithe carelessness, smug victory. “You like me now, right, Omoi? We’re friends, aren’t we?”

Omoi swallows, meets those pinwheel eyes, and decides that he’s going to trust Shisui. It’s an easy choice, really. After all, this is the worst possible situation, and against the backdrop of that, the light of hope that Shisui gives off is all too obvious.

He leans in, fits his mouth to Shisui's, and kisses him in answer. There's one moment of frozen shock, and then a laugh, warm against his mouth. Shisui kisses him back, and this is the desperate, devoted Shisui from the genjutsu who presses Omoi up against the wall, deepens the kiss to something devouring and sweet and wildly grateful. Who cups Omoi's face like he’s something precious, even with Madara watching them, and puts his whole heart into the kiss.

Omoi kisses him back, and tries to think, just this once, of the best case scenario.