Uchiha Madara took a deep breath and in wafted a fresh, cool, rusty breeze – with just the slightest hint of apples and nuts. The leaves rustled in the wind, creating a calm, soothing atmosphere. Somewhere in the distance, the chirping of the birds and the scampering of the squirrels could be heard. The leaves were beginning to change, the live electric green of summer was beginning to shrivel, molt and fall into shades of orange, yellow, and brown. The trees stretched their branches for the last time before they must face the season's breeze bare and naked. Madara sighed as he watched young children scurry around trying to enjoy the last bit of decent weather until Mother Nature decided to close her wings and blow chilled winds around the area. Shaking his head, he turned his back on his village for the second time; it hadn't changed at all since he left.
His strong hands clenched tighter onto the delicate stem of the Chinese bellflower he happened to pass by on the way to his destination. Normally he didn't bother picking up such girly things, he didn't think much of them and always questioned why females enjoyed them so much; they were so fragile, and died too quickly. However, it felt dishonorable showing up at his dear brother's grave empty handed, and when he laid eyes on the periwinkle blue flower something drawn him to it.
His stomach fluttered as he grew closer, he always felt like this when coming in contact with his brother. Wiping the sweat on his brow his eyes softened completely, a glare nowhere in sight. Flaring his nostrils Madara sunk to the ground crossing his legs and bowing his head in respect. He sat before the grave with nothing but his thoughts and the delicate flower lying gently in his hands. Sighing deeply, his gaze shifted; watching the grave with half lidded eyes. Madara sat there in silence for what seemed like hours; never saying anything, never moving. He stayed in place, watching, mourning, trying to feel or connect with his late brother even though he knew he couldn't.
Blowing a strand of hair from his eyes, he glanced down at the flower. In any other moment he wouldn't have given a second thought for a flower; a simple and feminine thing. However, in his pain and solitude, he found himself looking at it differently. No longer was it a mere plant, to Uchiha Madara, the flower resembled life; Izuna's life; all life. One minute it's there, living, breathing, but plucks it and it wilts. It shrivels and dies, and so does a human life. One minute Izuna was there, fighting alongside his brother as an equal, and the next he was struck down by none other than the Senju. Izuna was a shinobi, and he would do anything for his clan, but having lost his other siblings and vowing to protect him, in Madara's heart Izuna was innocent; as pure as the flower he held.
"Izuna," he sighed, resting the Chinese bellflower onto the soft soil. Madara had power beyond reckoning, but in the end it didn't mean a thing, for he lost everything that ever mattered to him; everything he wanted to protect. His precious younger brother was dead before him. The Uchiha turned their backs on him; the Senju, specifically Hashirama and Tobirama, had belittled and betrayed him. He was defeated in every way. As he lived day after day, he came to realize that the Uchiha and Hashirama turning away from him would have been tolerable.
"If you were by my side, otōto yo." Resting an elbow on his knee, he held his face. "It was me. I let you die. I couldn't protect you." Of all the not so admirable things Madara had done in his life, allowing Izuna's death was the one that haunted him, that still did, and would haunt him until death, and even after, because his precious brother lost his life fighting his war against the Senju, and Izuna's death was unjustified.
Licking his lips in anticipation, Madara released his sweaty hand from his black leather glove. These gloves had been a gift from Izuna when he had first become a shinobi and ever since his little ototo had died, he had made it a routine on putting them on everyday as a piece of his usual outfit. Stroking his hand over the gloves, Madara placed them gently beside him in the lush grass. Making an effort, he leaned forward to caress his fingers along Izuna's engraved name, the smooth marble cooled his warm hands in which calmed the pulse of his heart.
"Izuna..." he sighed again, closing his eyes in relaxation, "...do you hate me?" the question seemed foreign to him, for he knew that normally he wouldn't care who hated him but if it was his little ototo he wouldn't know what to do with himself. As if to answer his question a rather large object came from the sky and hit him on the head which left the Uchiha leader cursing under his breath. Searching the area around him he noticed a rather large acorn sitting about a meter away. Curious eyes grasped the acorn in his hand examining it closer, lips pressed into a thin line he recalled a time when Izuna had thrown an acorn at him.
"Nii-san! Where are you?" Tiny fingers wrapped around the rough bark of a tree, before poking his curious head over the other side. Dark eyes peered at that of his Nii-san who was staring up at one of the many oak trees that grew during the summer. A mischievous grin crossed the five year olds features as he moved from behind the tree to accompany his brother.
"Nii-san, what are you staring at?" Madara turned his attention briefly to his younger brother before looking up towards the tree again.
"The tree..."Izuna frowned at his vague answer poking lightly at forearm as if trying to pry information out of his stoic yet caring brother. "...it reminds me of mom..." Izuna's pesterous poking stopped immediately at the mention of his mother allowing his big eyes to widen in more curiosity. The younger Uchiha had never met his mother due to complications after childbirth, and his father never spoke of her to him.
"Mom...?" Madara nodded taking a seat beneath the tree staring off over the forest, at that very spot there was a great view of the sun where it would set every day. Izuna crouched down beside his brother studying his face, he wanted to be like his Nii-san, strong and knowledgeable, but he was slightly envious of his older brother.
"What was mom like?" Izuna asked, pulling his legs close to his chest and wrapping his tiny arms around them. It was silent for a moment and Izuna didn't think his brother had heard him until his equally onyx eyes turned to stare at him. Madara shrugged, looking out towards the setting sun once more.
"She was... beautiful, and her touch was so soft. We used to sit here a lot when father was on missions." Madara stated resting his head back against the bark. Izuna smiled, he had only ever seen his mother in what very few pictures they had of her; and it was obvious that she was beautiful but to think that he was sitting where his mother had sat so many times made him feel... somewhat closer to her. Picking up a few acorns in his hand the younger of the two began to toss them around and break them open.
"Mother loved you..." The elder brother stated which to Izuna made him seem out of character. He had never heard his brother talk about love before, and so freely, the subject of love was a touchy subject that was forbidden for that of a shinobi to have towards another; it was a sign of weakness. Izuna who was only five years old knew of that much.
"Really?" he asked the sound of his voice growing high pitched and excited. Madara didn't answer instead he pushed himself up off the ground and turning his back on his younger brother as if to make his way back home.
"Yeah... but she loved me more." his nii-san stated with a sly grin. Izuna glared slightly "Nuh uh!" A chuckle slipped from Madara's mouth as he turned to look at his younger brother.
"Yeah, huh." With that childish comeback Madara began to walk off. Flushed with embarrassment and anger Izuna rose from the ground clutching the acorns in his hand tightly before he swiftly threw one straight at the elder Uchiha's head causing a hissing sound to escape from Madara's lips... "Nuh huh, Mom loved us both equally!" Izuna grinned in accomplishment; he finally hit his brother, and with an acorn at that! This had been a great achievement for the younger of the two and he was well on his way to become great like his older brother. All that excitement unfortunately left his body once his nii-san turned around giving him the most hateful glare he could possibly muster.
"Izuna..." Madara growled, which Izuna had noticed was never a good thing, squeaking in fear he turn quickly on his heel to get a head start away.
Madara smiled at the memory, pocketing the acorn as he rose from his spot on the ground to stare off in the opposite direction. The sun was almost set, little orange, yellow, and pink rays coming off the peak of the horizon. The chilled wind blew and flinging his hair behind him, while kissing his cheeks with unusual warmth, and for the first time in his life he could say that he had asked a foolish question.