They say the devil's water it ain't so sweet,
You don't have to drink right now -
But you can dip your feet
Every once in a little while.
- The Killers "When You Were Young."
Years passed, and Sasuke grew. Taller, leaner, stronger. When pressed for the reason behind his dedication to his training, he would reply with the well rehearsed line 'to kill my brother.'
Hatred fuelled his training, but while many presumed it was the hatred felt towards his brother that was responsible for his growth, they were wrong.
As the years had passed, Sasuke's dangerous idolatry of his brother had only grown. Try as he might to hate his brother, Sasuke could only lie awake at night, dreaming of the times when his brother's hands had comforted him, had sparked that dangerous connection with pain and comfort deep within him. Hate his brother? He could never. Hate himself? That was all too easy.
Part of him relished in the sickness that seemed to be festering within him, knowing how his brother would turn away in disgust if he knew the truth. He often wondered where his brother was hiding – there were rumours he had joined an elite group of missing nin, but their base was unknown and information about its members was even more scarce. Nevertheless, Sasuke knew that at some point his brother would return to him. He doubted he could keep himself away.
Sasuke would often lie awake at night, choking himself to the brink of unconsciousness just so that he could imagine his brother there, above him, stroking him until he came painfully against the confines of his clothes and sweltering bedsheets.
How many times had he repeated those same actions, over and over, wishing not for his own hand but for that of his own flesh and blood?
At times, he wondered if Itachi had known - if he'd had a slight inkling when they were growing up. God knows Sasuke had never truly understood the depth of his depravity back then – but Itachi was older, had had more experiences of the world and the people within it. Had there been a chance that he had known the twisted nature behind his brother's self-inflicted cuts and grazes? If he did, he had never questioned him.
Sasuke thought back to the time he had lacerated his inner thigh, a little too deep that time, deep enough that time to require professional medical attention. Itachi had sewn him back together without any questions, whipping the needle and surgical thread through the wound with ease and precision – but it was the tight grip Itachi had on his hipbone, holding him still, that Sasuke remembered. Tight enough to bruise him – the imprint of his fingertips leaving small purple indents that would last for days. Itachi hadn't spoken a word – just fulfilled his duty to fix his damaged little brother, not even reacting when Sasuke winced and twisted in his painful grip, trying to hide his arousal and biting his soft lips to muffle his voice.
Was there a chance that he had known?
In a way, Sasuke wouldn't' have been surprised if he did.
The thought that maybe Itachi had known all along – well, the thought brought him a surreal sense of relief.
The thought was dispelled with the sound of the stairs creaking softly outside his bedroom screen door.
How many years had it been, lying awake, waiting for this very moment?
Eyes shut tightly, hands clutching tight fists into his bed sheets, tugged up to his chin - he heard the gentle sliding sound of wood and paper as the shoji screen slid easily open. He could feel the floorboards shift under his futon as his brother stepped in, closing the screen behind him. It slid shut with a firmness that made Sasuke's heart jump up into his throat.
His fingers, white bone against his dark sheets, ached for release as he gripped tighter at the bed covers. He lay with his back to the screen, listening to the thudding of his own pulse which rung with an echoing fluidity like trapped water in his eardrums. His mouth was dry but he bit back the reflex to swallow – worried that the noise alone would give away his anticipation, would disrupt the surreal dream-like feeling that seemed to have descended on the room.
He felt the weight of a knee lower down on either side of his hips, trapping his lower body under his sheets. He concentrated on the reassuring weight of those legs, firm and solid, knees rubbing just slightly against the jutting bones of his hips. A hand reached out in the darkness and touched the side of his face, turning him away from his clenched fingers and making him look up – up into the glowing red eyes that hovered above him.
The light of the activated sharingan made Sasuke's skin crawl. The gentle light, no stronger than a candle flame, seemed to flicker slightly as the commas shifted around the dark irises, twisting slightly to tighten their spirals in concentration.
'Are you… going to make me forget? Like last time?'
Itachi remained silent for a moment, but the commas in his eyes slowed gently in their spirals.
'It's the only way we can do this. You know that.'
Sasuke's voice surprised himself in the quietness of the room. No more than a whisper, tight and hoarse against his dry throat as he struggled to look away.
Part of him knew that if, and when, his brother visited him, there would be consequences to their actions. If his brother was going to allow him the pleasure of giving in to his depraved desires, the use of the sharingan was of course the easiest and most reliable option.
'Please, not yet.'
Sasuke released the clenched sheets from his grip, feeling the tired ache in his knuckles as he reached up with damp hands to tentatively touch his brother's chest – to confirm that he was actually here. His fingers found cold metal. A hand was still holding his face, sliding fingertips down from his hairline, following his tight jaw down to his chin. The hand was gloved, the worn leather soft and supple, creasing gently at the elbow. Sasuke heard the faint chink of the armour plates fastened to his brother's forearms as he moved. This wasn't just any armour – Sasuke remembered the times he had watched his brother dress before a mission, pulling the breastplate on and over his head, fastening the straps tightly at his sides.
If he closed his eyes, he could have been back then. Back in a time before his world was turned roughly upside down by his brother's treachery.
Heat began to crawl up from the base of Sasuke's neck, forcing him to suppress a shiver as goosebumps threatened to itch their way across his bare arms. The sheets had slipped from his chest as his brother straddled him, crumpled at his waist, exposing his bare chest in the darkness. He bit his lip hard, watching as the red eyes narrowed slightly, the dark commas growing as if to soak in the sight before him.
He ran his fingers across the hard breast plate, tracing deep scratches in the metal that had been carved by small kunai, feeling the sharp diamond-shaped nicks that had been made by enemy arrow heads. His fingers slipped quickly through a cloying wetness. It came away on his fingers, almost sticky.
His eyes slid shut and he couldn't escape the shuddering breath that escaped his lips. The blood had splattered up across his brother's abdomen, perhaps spraying up from a split throat. In the gentle red light of his brother's eyes, the thick blood on his fingertips appeared as black as ink.
'I hadn't anticipated the complex to be guarded,' Itachi said, turning his head slightly to flick stray strands of his loose ponytail from his glowing eyes.
Sasuke's eyes shifted to the sliding door on the far side of the room, catching sight of the heavy katana leaning against the wall. The pressure of the legs on either side of him made him turn, making him look back up into those eyes.
'But then, I thought you might like this.'
He spoke gently, almost accusingly, stroking his gloved thumb against the corner of Sasuke's mouth. He watched the way the boy turned gently into the action, his back arching ever so slightly off the futon at the smallest amount of contact. Thin body desperate and keening. His black eyes shone wetly in the dark, and with his sharingan activated, Itachi let himself notice the tremors in the boy's exposed throat, white as bone; the fine beads of sweat clinging to the hair stuck to his neck; the thrum of his pulse that seemed to flicker behind his ribs, lying hidden beneath his taut pale skin.
He could feel Sasuke hanging on his every word, as if the sound of his voice alone was enough to tighten every muscle in his fragile body.
'Rumours are going around that my younger brother wants to kill me.'
He felt the boy shiver as he released him, reaching behind himself to loop a finger into the pocket on the back of his belt. The boy's dark eyes began to shine expectantly, watching the movement as his brother pulled two bloodied kunai from his pouch.
'Even over in the village of the hidden mist, people are talking about Sasuke Uchiha.'
His name sounded foreign on Itachi's tongue, and Sasuke found himself arching up into that sound, wanting to hear his name spill from those lips again and again.
'They don't know, do they? They don't know the truth.' Itachi said, placing the weapons on the boy's exposed chest.
The kunai were cold and deceptively heavy. Sasuke swallowed the groan that wanted to spill from his lips. One of the knives slipped slightly on his chest as his breath hitched, slipping in the blood that had coated the handle and bottom of the blade. It was still fresh – these knives had killed recently.
'They don't know what you're really thinking when you're alone, when you can't sleep at night.'
Itachi leaned forward as he spoke, so close now that stray strands of his long hair fell forward, brushing against Sasuke's forehead and lowered eyelashes. His gloved hands brought one of the kunai up from his chest – Sasuke's ribs ached for its weight as it was lifted – and traced the edge of his bottom lip.
'How part of you aches for this. How part of you longs to succumb to this.'
His voice was low and hushed as he drew the kunai along the swollen lip, pressing down enough to coax the boy to let his mouth fall open slightly.
'How long have you known?' Sasuke couldn't help himself but ask, his voice lowered and embarrassed by the question, feeling the dangerous point of the knife move with his lips. Itachi paused, as if considering the question as he leant back gently on his heels tucked beneath him.
Sasuke's eyes slid closed as he eagerly began sliding his tongue against the blade's edge. He didn't care how he looked, how his body seemed to ache for the painful pleasure only his brother's hands could bring him. Itachi watched as, perhaps deliberately, the boy cut his tongue shallowly on the blade. Thin blood began to swell from the boy's mouth and dribbled wetly down his chin, staining his white teeth.
He pulled the blade from the boy's mouth, watching as he flinched in surprise, unaware of how the blade had just caught at the bottom of his lip, splitting the flesh there in a soft cut that began to ooze.
He punctuated his words by moving the kunai to the soft underside of the boy's throat, pressing just below his trembling adams apple.
Sasuke shivered as he felt his brother move from atop him. The reassuring weight of his armoured body disappeared from either side of Sasuke's legs as he stood, taking the threat of the kunai with him. Sasuke struggled to take in a shivering breath, legs strangely weak underneath him as he pushed the sheets aside and stood to his feet. His underwear clung to him, sticky with sweat. Barely able to see his own fingers in front of his face, Sasuke couldn't help but feel exposed – even in the darkness. With the sharingan activated, he knew that his brother would be able to see everything, from the way the sweat dripped from the back of his neck, to the nervous tremble of the muscles in his thighs. Even to the tell-tale tightness of his abdomen.
'Stand against the wall,' came the command. Sasuke did so, stepping from his futon and moving to stand beside his small dresser, inching back until his heels hit the wall. He wondered how many others his brother had spoken those words to. How many he'd commanded to stand and accept their fate, their life in his hands. He wondered if they had fought back in their last moments, or, if like himself, they had gone willingly to their end. Sasuke's heart raced, and as his brother moved to stand before him, he closed his eyes in anticipation.
He stood there for what felt like hours, unable to look into those scarlet eyes that made him feel nauseous and weak at the knees. Unknowingly he sucked at his bottom lip, biting the soft fleshy cut that had begun to clot.
When his brother reached out and took a hold of his hands, he jumped in nervous surprise, flushing with embarrassment as his brother leaned forward and smirked against the skin of his neck. A trembling whimper escaped his lips, feeling his brother's mouth gently ghost against his throat.
He let the man guide his hands, stretching his arms out to either side of his body, pinning the back of his hands against the wall.
'Don't make a sound.'
His brother spoke against his neck, lips brushing against him to make the words shiver across his skin.
The first kunai slid easily through the sinewy flesh of his palm. The speed of the blow firmly pinned into the wall, just deep enough to secure his hand and hold it tightly in place. He released a shaky breath he didn't realise he'd been holding, wincing as the adrenalin began to surge through his veins, making his head spin and his fingertips tingle. His chest was rising and falling fast, and as he turned to look at his outstretched arm he caught sight of the metal weapon in the fiery glow of his brother's eyes. Blood dripped rhythmically onto the floorboards, thick heavy droplets that could have been mistaken for rain on the roof tiles outside.
'I sharpened them especially for you, you know.'
Sasuke sunk his teeth into his swollen bottom lip, feeling the slice in his flesh reopen and bleed weakly at the sudden rough treatment.
He felt his brother kiss his shoulder, gloved fingers caressing the round joint before he turned his attention to his other arm, outstretched, exposed, waiting. Sasuke found himself wondering how easily his brother's hand could dislocate that shoulder – caressing and squeezing until it popped free from its joint. The thought made his stomach jolt with a nausea that made his head spin.
Sasuke's adrenalin had already begun to wear off as the second kunai sunk effortlessly into his right hand. He cried out weakly, surprised to find his face wet with tears as he opened his eyes and blinked them away, slipping from his jaw to join the drops of blood staining the floor below. He let himself hang limply against the wall, feeling the sharp tug in his palms that restricted him from sinking completely to the floor.
'Don't let them hold your weight,' his brother warned, tapping a gloved finger knowingly at the boy's white wrist. 'These blades will split your pretty hands in two.'
Sasuke struggled to straighten his weak legs, gritting his teeth and forcing himself up to stand fully against his bindings, as per his instructions. He sucked in a trembling breath and exhaled slowly, letting the tears slip from his lashes and down his cheeks.
The approval in his brother's voice thrummed through him like a drug. Arms outstretched and pinned to the wall on either side, Sasuke felt like something sacrificial – a partaker in some surreal, perverse sacrament. In the faint delirium of pain that threatened to overtake his head and send him spiralling into unconsciousness, his brother's eyes resembled warm candlelight; his futon an altar of twisted bedsheets and sweat.
His brother's hands were on him then, stroking down his sides wet with sweat, blood and tears, to hook into the waistband of his clinging underwear. Red eyes watched as he slipped them from the boy's thin hips, catching on his arousal and tugging free with a sharp intake of pain, pulled in through gritted teeth and bloody lips.
'You really want this,' he breathed in the darkness, reaching forward with one gloved hand to take the boy into his palm. It wasn't a question.
Sasuke bit back a groan, relishing in the ghosting touch of the soft leather as his brother barely touched him. He didn't want to open his eyes – to possibly dispel the dreamlike feeling of his brother's hand on him after all these years – but he forced himself to. He shook his head.
'Not with that,' he muttered, voice broken and hoarse, looking down at his brother's hand holding him, black with leather up to his elbow.
Itachi seemed to hesitate for a moment before releasing the boy from his grip, lifting his hand up to the boy's sore mouth and letting his forefinger touch gently at his bruised lips.
Sasuke opened wide and took the offered finger into his red mouth, biting at the tip of the gloved finger and allowing his brother to slip free from its grip. His flesh burned at the touch of his brother's warm hand, reaching down to hold him tight as his back arched against the wall, tugging at the skin of his palms and causing him to cry out again. The glove fell from his lips and landed softly at his feet.
The quick, dangerous flicker of his brother's eyes caused him to bite back a third cry, whimpering instead deep within his throat as his body began to thrum with pain and embarrassing arousal. He hated himself for enjoying it. For not only enjoying it – but for idolising his own flesh and blood for allowing him the pleasure of enjoying it. The terrifying weight of the situation hung heavy on every panted breath. The room felt hot, too hot, prickling with a heady mixture of excitement and arousal.
The question hung in the air accusingly. Sasuke found his chest rising and falling to the rhythm of his brother's hand, his mouth open, breathlessly replying his affirmation.
'Yes, yes – oh God – '
Itachi pulled his hand up and thumbed deliberately across the slit, pulling the boy's voice from his body in a shuddering gasp. Sasuke's whole body tightened against the kunai digging into his splayed palms, his arousal relishing in the pain that flared up from his hands and travelled down to reside deep in the base of his spine.
He heard his brother sink down to his knees as if in prayer. He felt his hot mouth kiss his hipbones, first the left and then the right, as if in reverence. Those kisses soon turned sharp, his brother's teeth leaving small crescent moons in the flesh of his thighs – knowing full well that they would bruise and linger for days. Itachi wouldn't allow his brother to remember everything that happened tonight; it was too dangerous for them both. But he would allow some small tokens of the night to remind Sasuke of his obedient compliance. Sasuke hissed as his brother sucked gently at the bite marks, drawing blood to the surface in small purple dots that would darken and linger over time, inching his way closer to his arousal before nudging it against his wet lips.
'Oh God – ' Sasuke breathed again, fighting weakly against his bonds as he let his head hit back against the wall, the pain dizzying him slightly and making the reality of the situation fresh and bright in the darkness of the room.
'There are no Gods here,' he heard his brother say against him, sliding a hot tongue across his head and dipping hard into the slit.
Unable to move or reach for his brother's mouth, Sasuke found himself itching to tangle his fingers in his brother's long hair, tied neatly back and draped over one shoulder. He couldn't even arch forward into his brother's mouth – searing hot like the fire deep within his eyes, melting around him and taking him in deep. His knees wanted to buckle as he struggled to supress a moan – feeling that mouth constrict and tighten as he swallowed.
The name slipped from his lips on a shuddering exhale. He closed his eyes tightly, fighting back tears that just didn't seem to want to stop. His lip was bleeding again, swollen now as if he had been punched. He could feel the warm blood against his teeth, wondering what it would be like to have his brother punch him hard, or break a bone, or dislocate his wrist.
The depravity of the thoughts only made his breath quicken as he tried to move with his brother's mouth. A hand came up to push against his hipbone, hard enough to keep him still against the wall.
He couldn't help it. He knew that speaking his brother's name aloud seemed to break the surreal dream-like quality of the encounter – but the name fell easily from his tongue like the blood that fell from his mouth. As if that name was a part of him. He found himself repeating it over and over, not sure if he was even being heard – the mantra catching on his breath and hitching as his brother took him impossibly deep into his mouth, swallowing, pulling his orgasm so willingly from his tightened body, strung up against the wall.
When he came, hard - but with a quiet whimper that escaped his lips sounding almost like relief - he resisted his body's worrying urge to curl his fingers into fists. The knives rubbed sharply against his bleeding palms, as his body shuddered, drawing forth fresh blood as he struggled to keep his arching body still. He found himself watching through half-lidded eyes as he came, his brother easing him from his mouth just as the white rivulets hit his chin and dripped to fall at his throat and chest in weak arches. His orgasm throbbed through him, syncing in time with the throbbing hands, pinned up to the wall.
Itachi pushed himself up from his knees, wiping at his mouth and chin with his single gloved hand. White streaks came away on the black leather, forming a wet bridge between his thumb and forefinger.
Sasuke found himself leaning forward, ignoring the protest in his hands to wantonly suck at his brother's outstretched finger, taking in the slippery taste of himself on the worn leather.
He felt the gentle whisp of an exhaled breath near his ear, as Itachi allowed himself a brief moment to sink forward, resting his head on the wall beside his brother's, lips resting softly on the shell of the boy's ear, his black hair sticking to his neck with sweat.
The sound of his own name made Sasuke jump. He opened his eyes, not realising how they had slid shut as the last pounding thumps of his orgasm dimmed in his body. Letting his brother's finger slip from his wet mouth, he looked up, momentarily catching sight of his own reflection in his brother's dark pupils. The red irises were brighter now, flickering, beginning to swirl around the three commas that danced around his pupils.
His protest was weak, his voice nothing more than a resigned whimper.
'Not now, please – '
He tried to look away, but his eyes remained firmly fixed on his brothers. It was as if Itachi was holding his head in his hands, forcing him to look – to remain still.
'You knew this was coming.'
Itachi watched as his brother's panicked eyes slid heavily shut, his head lolling forward as his legs began to give way beneath him. He was unconscious within seconds.
Pulling the kunai from his palms easily from his palms, Itachi helped his brother slide to the floor before the knives tore through his hands. He tugged Sasuke's underwear up to his waist, using his loose glove discarded at their feet to wipe away the blood and saliva that had dripped onto Sasuke's chest. In the dim light, the droplets resembled a perverse string of rosary beads. In his pocket he pulled free some bandages, a surgical needle, and thread.
He secured his brother's hands, tightly winding the bandages across his bony knuckles and the wet sticky wounds. The blood was already beginning to clot as the boy's heart began to beat at a slower pace. He slipped the needle through the soft flesh of his bottom lip, wiped clear of blood, to form a simple stitch. His fingers lingered as he tied the knot in the black thread, carefully stroking the soft bottom lip with his fingertip. His eyes concentrated on the boy's breathing, shallow but slow, and easing gently as his body succumbed to the genjutsu.
Sasuke awoke to a dull throbbing in his hands. Birdsong was fresh and bright on the morning breeze, sunlight just beginning to creep around the edge of his curtain. Lying on his back on his futon, he stretched his arms up in front of him, examining the stained bandages that were wrapped tightly around his palms. Dried blood had seeped into the centre of each hand, blossoming like a rose as he had slept. He rolled a shoulder, forcing himself to sit up, feeling the strange tightness in the joint send a twinge down his upper arm to his elbow. His other arm felt the same.
Sasuke didn't question the bandages. He unravelled them as he headed to the bathroom, carefully looping them through his fingers and wincing as they tugged at the fresh scabs that had begun to form. Even his mouth hurt, and as he swept his tongue over the corner of his mouth, he felt the tell-tale smoothness of a fresh cut and a small piece of thread tied knotted tightly.
He slid from his underwear and stepped under the hot spray of the shower, turning the heavy dial to begin filling the square tub in the corner of the bathroom as he washed. He carefully rolled his neck under the spray, feeling his muscles ache and protest at the movement. Blood trickled from the wounds in his palms, spiralling down into the drain in weak red rivers.
They had been made by a sharp instrument, he realised as he examined the wound under the spray of water. A throwing star or kunai would create the same slicing puncture wound. The backs of his hands matched the wounds on his palms, although they seemed to have bled less. They itched, and reluctantly Sasuke shut off the shower.
His tub was nearly full and he eagerly stepped over to it, wanting nothing more than to soak his aching muscles in the steaming water, hot enough almost to scald.
As if he lifted one leg over the edge of the tub and stepped in carefully, he found himself pause.
Gently he touched a finger to the bruise on his thigh – so close to his groin that it was almost hidden from sight. He traced each indentation of the bite, picturing each perfect tooth sinking into the flesh.
Sasuke swallowed against the hard lump forming in his throat.
He eased into the hot water, no longer so eager to merely sit – wanting instead to scour every inch of his body for any further incriminating marks. Reluctantly he sat in the tub, letting the sweat prickle on his forehead and above his eyebrows as he hung his pale hands over the edge. Fresh droplets of blood dripped to the tiled floor and splashed gently.
When he finished his bath and headed back to his futon, wanting nothing more than to crawl back under the covers and sleep the day away, he noticed the dents in the plaster wall. The two marks were roughly two arm's lengths apart. Sasuke let out a shaky breath as he sank to the futon, his skin damp and cold against the plush fabric. His toes touched something cool and he jumped in surprise, reaching down beneath his covers and pulling forth a heavy kunai.
His thumb stroked over the kanji of his family's name engraved in the handle.
Sasuke fell asleep holding the knife, his own blood still drying on its blade.