Elegy of the Wronged
All his life, Sasuke loved his brother, even when he hated him for what he's done. That is, until now.
Alternatively, Sasuke finds out the truth about the Uchiha massacre earlier than expected. Canon AU
The idea came to me about how different Sasuke's reaction will be if he finds the truth about the Uchiha clan massacre before his pursuit and confrontation with Itachi. I though that seemingly small switch in events would have a major impact as Sasuke still doesn't have a trauma of killing his brother yet and how that difference will change his perception.
This is also contemplation on love, hate, and indifference. Especially since I felt one of the major theme about the Uchiha clan is love and hate, and how similar they can be.
I - Nine Years of Grief
When Sasuke was seven, he lost his whole family in a sea of blood. His brother had killed everyone. That day he was unable to do anything but watch as all those he loved and knew fell one by one, again and again.
Father's bloody corpse on top of mother's. Uncle Sanosuke's decapitated form. Megumi-san's lying in a pool of her blood, belly cut open…
Even afterwards, all he could do in his frenzy was to drag the bodies into a pyre. His hands had shook as he performed the katon.
"The Phoenix seal to finish," the clan priest, Genji-sama, instructed as he rapped Sasuke's knuckles to bend at the correct angle. "We invoke our clan's guardian, Suzaku, to give our blessing and prayers to the dead."
The last funeral rights of the Uchiha, it was the only way he knew how to honour his people.
Mother. Father, Grandma Yuki, Uncle Tatsu, Auntie Himiko, Cousin Tora, Cousin Chiyo…
"We live by the flame and die by the flame," Granduncle Kenshin had murmured gently as they both watched Shisui's body set alight. Grief had been palpable in the air, as well as horror. Death by drowning. A water-bloated corpse. An anathema to a people who embraced the fire as their element. What more for one of the great hopes of the clan? His cousin, the brilliant son. A kind soul.
"My boy, my boy," Mother sobbed against the backdrop of Grandma Yuki's wails.
He set them all ablaze until the scent of burning flesh drew the ANBU. They had put a stop to his single-minded purpose to honour the dead. He could not even finish what he started. He had been too young and too weak.
Useless little brother. There is no value in killing the likes of you.
At fifteen, Sasuke learned the truth about the massacre that robbed him of his whole family. Orochimaru had left him a final vindictive parting gift in his last ditch attempt to posses him. The wily snake had allowed the truth to slip from his mind whilst they grappled for control. The gambit should have succeeded, the shock and denial would have stunned anyone. It had stunned Sasuke, but it did not anticipate the sheer grief that brought a sharp clear ruthlessness within him.
Sasuke killed Orochimaru. He willingly allowed the man to drive hooks into his psyche. Gave a taste and let greed do all the work. Careless, Orochimaru dove in and Sasuke pounced. He crushed the snake's consciousness into nothing more than its component parts.
An eye for an eye. What you said you'll do to me, I will do it to you as well.
Sasuke stared at cooling body and broke into hysterical laughter. He laughed. Laughed at the irony that the only person who had always been honest with him was the bastard who saw him as a spare part to be obtained. Those who purported to love or care for him were nothing but liars. Brother, no Itachi. Home, no, Konoha.
Itachi killed everyone.
Absent-minded Kouya-kun. Prissy Saya-chan. Proud Genji-sama who would always fold him origami cats. Penny-pincher Tatsumi-san with the freshest produce. Cranky Tamaki-san who would yell at them to stop playing around. Shy Rei-san. Shisui…
Everyone died at the orders of Konoha.
He did not remember much in his hysteria. He only remembered the aftermath. The shattered landscape of Hidden Sound. The sharp tang of ozone. The swath of molten slag and the last dying embers of black flames. The deafening silence.
The next thing he knew, he was slumped on the muddy ground. He realised that he had unknowingly decided to wait. A sense of anticipation permeated the air. Itachi was coming.
Face me with the truth, you coward.
Itachi arrived in a gust of fire and the strange sweet smell of herbs. Sasuke was first prepared for a burst of rage or a bitter tang of grief. Yet at the sight of the familiar form, he felt nothing. It was a strange feeling, this sheer absent minded ennui. For as long as he could remember, Itachi had always endangered a complicated mix of emotions. Now, it was as if he was looking at a stranger.
"Sasuke," Itachi spoke in greeting, a curious lilt in his voice, whilst his sharingan flared to life.
Sasuke found his own eyes responding. The world suddenly blazed in a hyper-realistic brightness. Curious. He could count every single eyelash in his brother's eyes. Saw the slight twitch of his lids. Viewed at the corner of his eye, the single stand of web spilling out of a spider as it begins to spin its home. Every vein of the leaf that floated by. All the puffs bursting out of a dandelion.
"The mangekyou," Itachi observed with a confused hushed, a satisfied turn of a lip. "Congratulations little brother."
Sasuke did not reply. Stunned. 'The mangekyou,' his mind whispered. His memories quickly spinning to the black flames he conjured up in his frenzied destruction of Hidden Sound. 'Amaterasu, the black unquenchable flames.'
'We call it the mangekyou,' Sasuke would remember the voice of the Uchiha clan priest that spoke to him about the legendary eyes.
'Memory is such a curious thing,' he thought. He had nearly forgotten that visit. The old man had come during the night with his ever present pet hawk perched on his shoulder. It after Shuisi's funeral, the time he was haunted with dreams of drowning and distended corpses.
"Know this young heir," Genji-sama would call him for the first and last time. The hawk's sharp yellow stare was an eerie counterpart to his words. "We do not speak of it for it demands a very high price. It is borne from the all-encompassing grief of a beloved's death. When all hope is lost and all you wish for is the end. The mangekyou allows you to fulfil your promises and extracts the price of your very own eyes."
Sasuke could never understand the significance, until now. It was over. He did not need the truth from his brother. He knew the truth. His brother's presence said it all. The face, the form, the whole body could not hide anything.
Yes, he can freely say it now. The man standing before him was his brother. They share the same flesh and blood, and nothing else.
"You are dead to me," he spoke at last. It did not matter to Sasuke that they were supposed to be fighting within the illusion of Itachi's making. The mockery of fight with Itachi slowly gouging his eyes out for the eternal mangekyou. It was nothing more than a pack of lies his brother was so desperate to hold as truth.
"This is why I have the mangekyou, even if I haven't killed anyone that mattered to me, " Sasuke clarified as he squarely met Itachi's confused orbs. "It is because you and everyone are dead to me. We may share the same flesh and blood, we may all have shared a common origin, but they are all only accidents of circumstance."
"Sasuke?" The denial was rife in Itachi's voice.
"I am sorry, I no longer know you. We are but strangers."
"And so will you simply leave me to my rampage?" Itachi demanded, his voice far sharper than normal. "Will you gouged your eyes out and offer it to me?"
"Then do it," Sasuke replied simply, carelessly even.
"You absolve yourself from all your responsibility?"
Sasuke watched as his brother clung to his composure by his fingernails. It must have been frightening to know you've worked for was all for naught. Sasuke could almost pity him. Actually, he did pity him, a superficial sympathy for a stranger
"What responsibility? Your death? The duty to Konoha? " Sasuke challenged, before he gave a short disbelieving laugh. "If you want to die so badly, then do it by your own hand. If you want to love Konoha so badly, then go back and serve it with your own hands. I have no part in this."
"I killed our whole family. I wanted to. I had to." A pause and Itachi hissed out, "It was me. I did it."
The declaration echoed, then silence. Sasuke sighed.
"I suppose I owe you for allowing me to live," he spoke at last. His voice was soft. Contemplative even, distant for sure. "Let me tell you this. I know you want me to hate you. I do understand why. Hate and love are but two sides of the same coin. You knew you will still have my love, if you have my hate. But now, you no longer have them. Love me, hate me, I care not. I care not for you. It's over."
Sasuke did not wait. He turned his back and left Itachi to himself. Whatever thoughts and denials his brother has, it is not his business. There is nothing more for him. The only thing that mattered to Sasuke is the way to pass the time, in this half-life of his. Sasuke is already dying, he believed it will be soon. The mangekyou assured it.
"The mangekyou is the suicide dojutsu," Genji-sama murmured in the weak half-moon light. The priest's blind orbs were oddly intense as he stared at Sasuke. It was almost as if he could see the boy facing him.
"It appears when the very reason for your existence has been invalidated. The mangekyou will allow you to do your duty and seek your death."
A beat of silence. A flutter of wings as the hawk screamed in counterpoint.
"Remember that, young heir."
He walked. Walked as far away as he could until he could no longer move. His knees hit the dirt. His whole body ached with exhaustion, lips dry and cracked as a desert.
Sasuke stared blindly at the horizon. Uncaring at the carrion birds flying around him. Indifferent to the sharp gaze of the hawk perched, watching him in an unblinking stare. He boldly meets the predator's eyes, daring it. Go ahead, his eyes challenged, do what you will.
"Where are you going?"
Sasuke's lips twitched in an ironic smile at the uncompromising hauteur of the hawk's query.
"Far away from here," he rasped out.
A beat of silence, then the hawk flew down to meet him. Their gazes locked. Sasuke felt no fear. There was something comforting in the bird's presence. Almost familiar, even.
"Very well," the hawk spoke solemnly to the boy. "I will take you there."
"What's your name?"
Sasuke murmured his thanks before he allowed himself to succumb to weariness. He didn't know where he will be taken. He did not know what will happen to him. Live or die, when did it ever matter?