1 - Rebirth

With eyes brighter than dawn's first light, Uchiha Akemi entered the world. Born one minute fifty-six seconds after his identical twin Itachi, Akemi's first act was to follow his brother, a habit that would persist for years to come.

Fugaku noticed first how Itachi started crawling only for Akemi to start crawling four days later. How Itachi babbled his first word and the next morning Akemi stared Mikoto in the eye and gurgled—Kaa-san!

It was odd how often the two mirrored each other, but Fugaku thought nothing of it until one early morning he returned home to find the kitchen lights on. Assuming it was his wife tending to their sons, he stepped forward to greet her.

Yet the greeting froze halfway up his throat when he saw not his wife, but Akemi standing in the kitchen beside his brother with a baby bottle in hand and a weary expression that better-suited a man who had been woken up by his newborn's cries for the third time in a night.

Fugaku quickly backed into the shadows of the living room while Akemi began feeding Itachi the bottle and muttered what sounded like gibberish under his breath until the bottle was empty. Then he burped his brother, lugged Itachi onto a plush, baby blanket he must have smuggled out of their cradle, grasped all four ends of the cloth and slid Itachi across the floor with it.

Fugaku watched them disappear into the darkness of their nursery, jaw on the floor, and it took a solid minute for him to shake off his shock and go up to bed, telling himself it was just his imagination running rampant after a long day of work.

Still, after that day he kept a closer eye on nine-month old Akemi, if only to prove to himself there was nothing unusual about his second son.

So of course Fugaku discovered more evidence suggesting his youngest son not only learned to walk, talk, read and write faster than any normal child, but Akemi most likely waited for Itachi to progress past these developmental milestones before revealing he too could do the same.

Fugaku stopped looking so closely after grasping this, and rather preferred to ignore the possibility entirely because if his theory was correct then Akemi was smarter than Itachi—smarter than a prodigy.

And that was terrifying.

Fortunately no one ever confronted Fugaku with Akemi's potential to surpass his twin, for no one else scrutinized the boys so closely, as was proven by the many times clan members would wave to Itachi from afar only to realize the boy wasn't Akemi once he neared them.

It was the eyes, they told Itachi, explaining how they could tell them apart. Both twins may share the same face and mild temper, but whereas Itachi's eyes were ebony lakes frozen over winter, emotions buried deep beneath the ice, Akemi's eyes were fire-stoked coals, smothering an inferno.

"There's something burning behind all that calm," Shisui tried to explain once, rubbing the back of his head with a sheepish grin. "Whatever Akemi's really feeling is hot enough to burn through stone."

Itachi agreed, having noticed long ago whenever emotion peeked through his brother's calm facade there was always some sort of passionate emotion peppering Akemi's gaze. Yet, even Itachi couldn't discern what that emotion was.

Not until Father took him to a battlefield.

Bodies littered the earth like leaves in autumn, their bones jutting out flaps of skin and limbs gnarled around broken kunai while blood streamed past their wide open eyes like scarlet tears.

Itachi had never seen war before, never looked death in the eyes or stained his hands with another's blood. Yet even hours later death's scent clung to him, souring his every breath while a dead man's blood crusted under his fingernails.

His only solace was knowing Akemi had been spared the gruesome sight, his twin having thrown up before breakfast and been bedridden ever since. It was why Itachi now made his way up to his younger brother's bedroom, a steaming cup of mint tea on a saucer in his hands. He hoped the drink would chase off whatever troubled Akemi's stomach—that his blood-soaked hands could perform one blameless deed tonight.

Suddenly Itachi recalled the foreign shinobi who had lunged at him, wild-eyed and raising a kunai, and he froze in Akemi's doorway. In a blink, the man had crumpled face-first in the mud while Itachi was crouching and holding a red-stained kunai—

"What did you say?"

Father's outraged tone jerked Itachi from the memory, but his parent wasn't looking at him. Itachi peered around the man to see his twin propped up against his bed headboard, still clad in his forest green sleeping yukata.

However, Akemi's eyes were open and narrowed, his lips twisting into a faint scowl as he repeated. "I said if you ever hurt my brother like that again I will ruin you."

Itachi blanched and Father gaped as mild killing intent seeped into the air.

"You will never hurt Itachi like that again." Akemi hissed, brows drawn down in anger. "I won't let you."

However Father meant to reply would forever remain unknown as Itachi purposely scuffed his feet while entering the room.

Father spun back, wary until he saw the tea in Itachi's hands, and his expression lost some of its severity as Itachi bowed his head. "Excuse me, Tou-san. I made a drink to aid Akemi's recovery."

Father's face darkened at the reminder of his younger twin's presence, and his black orbs slid aside to glare at Akemi. "We can discuss this later."

Akemi's mouth opened, retort on his tongue, so Itachi rushed over to his bedside and thrust the tea into his hands. The boy blinked in surprise, faltering just long enough for Father to exit the room unchallenged.

Itachi sighed in relief. Argument averted.

"What's this, Nii-san?" Akemi's expression opened up as it always did when it was simply the two of them dwelling in the comfort of home, voice calm and steady as if he hadn't just aimed murderous intent towards their father.

"Oooh," Akemi's eyes sparkled while he appraised the cup's steaming contents. "Is it coffee—"

"You know it isn't."

Akemi pouted, but soon shrugged. "A boy can dream." He lifted the cup and took a sip.

Itachi didn't respond as he pulled himself up onto the bed and leaned against the headboard. Without prompt, Akemi lifted the bed cover and spread it atop their legs. Then he scooted over until their shoulders brushed against each other's.

The eldest didn't complain, privately pleased by the show of intimacy. The adults in their clan always spoke to him with such stiff reverence, their children no better as they often looked at him like he was a particularly odd puzzle, that Itachi had never really forged a meaningful relationship with any of them. Only Akemi treated him like he wasn't expectingsomething from him, and how it soothed Itachi's heart to know he could always be himself around his twin.

Itachi turned forward and his eyes swept over the dozens of papers haphazardly taped across the bedroom walls. The black and white pencil sketches had been crafted by his artsy little brother, images ranging from a portrait of a rosy-cheeked baby tucked in Itachi's arms to a furious clash between lightning and wind at the Valley of the End. If Itachi squinted he could make out two boys amidst the clashing elements, and wasn't the dark-haired one an Uchiha?

"I'm sorry I wasn't there for you."

Itachi turned to see Akemi's head hanging low over the drained cup in his lap, front bangs shadowing his expression as he whispered. "I should have stopped Father from taking you, or gone with you, but..." His hand clenched around the tea cup. "I was scared to see the fighting and death," shame mingled with self-loathing in his voice, "So I pretended to be sicker than I was, and I'm sorry for that, Nii-san."

Itachi's lips parted, a soft gasp escaping him. How did Akemi know what had happened today? Did Father tell him? But no... Akemi was speaking as if he'd known about Father's plans before he carried them out.

Akemi sniffled, and Itachi suddenly noticed the wet sheen over Akemi's eyes. In an instant all wonderings were forgotten because his brother was hurting, and what type of big brother would he be if he let his twin suffer?

"Don't worry," Itachi smiled gently, looping his arm around Akemi's waist. "I'm okay."

It wasn't a lie. Itachi was physically fine.

Akemi raised his head and glared. "No, you're not."

He sounded offended Itachi had even attempted to feed him the half-truth, Akemi somehow knowing Itachi was not fine, would never be fine until the war ended, until the whole world was cleansed of war.

Itachi looked away, scalded by his brother's all-knowing stare while jagged images of that battlefield broke through his mental barrier until the stench of slaughter and decay burned his lungs.

Akemi's face softened as Itachi's hands shook and he set the tea cup aside. "I'm sorry." He tugged Itachi into an embrace, setting his chin on his shoulder. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."

Sorry this world is so screwed up. Sorry you lost something you'll never get back today. Sorry I wasn't there when you needed me.

Itachi heard it all in the way Akemi clung to him, his brother's fingers running through the back of his hair and breath warming the skin of his neck.

"From now on, I'll stay by your side no matter what." Akemi pulled back so Itachi could see his determined expression.

And Itachi peered deep into those dark eyes mirroring his own, and finally grasped what emotion lurked within them.

Protectiveness. A fierce, all-consuming desire to protect. Akemi's eyes were burning with the same passion that now drove Itachi, they always had been.

Itachi grinned a small, but genuine smile. "I'll always be there for you too," he vowed.

.

Their fifth birthday came and went. Itachi received newly-minted ninja tools and Akemi got the piano he had been wanting for years.

At once he jumped onto the piano bench and played the keys, tentatively at first, but soon wild, lively, foreign tunes were springing out from under his hands. All the party attendees observed with raised brows. No one knew when, where or how Akemi learned to play, especially since pianists were scarce in the Land of Fire, as wind and string instruments dominated their music industry.

Father eventually asked, and Akemi looked up with a smile. "I practice the piano in my dreams." His forehead scrunched up, head tilting aside in confusion. "Can't you tell?"

The partygoers chuckled, believing him joking, but Itachi saw Akemi's eyes focusing past their father as he spoke, the same way they had when Mother asked Akemi what inspired him to draw so much.

"My dreams show me many things, but once they're over the details can be hard to recall, and I don't want to forget." Akemi didn't look up from the sketchbook on the table, pencil streaking across the page in swift, deft strokes.

Itachi, sitting across from him, watched his brother's hands, noting how every angle and curve was painstakingly crafted with a delicacy that told Itachi his sketching was not the fruitless hobby Father had deemed it. Rather, Akemi approached his sketching with the same intensity and focus he gave his shuriken training, like it was a necessity.

Itachi hid his frown behind his high collar while Akemi resumed an upbeat piano piece, his brother's eyes closing in concentration. Although Itachi didn't think Akemi was visualizing music notes in his head, but had gotten so swept up in the music he was no longer in the same room as them, maybe not even in the Village anymore.

His brother had fled to a world of his own, the place of his dreams, and this worried Itachi greatly.

For in a land of fire and ash, a dreamer had no place.

.

Over a month passed when Uchiha Sasuke entered the world.

Itachi adored his baby brother from the moment he saw him, quickly adjusting his training schedule to make time for carefully swaddling the baby against his chest and simply basking in the presence of the tiny life during the early hours of dawn.

Mother approved, aware Sasuke was happiest with Itachi, and Father allowed it in the hopes it would enhance Itachi's fledgling sense of responsibility. Akemi, however, didn't seem to care either way.

Itachi's arm dropped in the middle of tossing a shuriken at the target board pinned against a tree, and the weapon struck the dirt.

Itachi couldn't figure out what was going on with Akemi. His once amicable twin had closed himself off not only from Itachi but from the rest of his family too. Beginning in the hospital room when he declined to hold his newborn baby brother and worsening into staunch refusal whenever Itachi offered to share the bundle of joy.

It couldn't have been anything Sasuke had done, the infant having never reacted negatively to Akemi's presence. In fact, Itachi was pretty sure his and Akemi's near identical appearance was a source of confusion and wonder to little Sasuke, the baby's round, onyx eyes always rolling from one twin to the next before he released a curious coo.

"Frown any harder and your face will get stuck that way."

Itachi didn't turn from the target board he'd been staring through and Shisui edged closer, his lips tugging down at the lack of a reaction. "Hey, you okay?"

"Akemi is avoiding Sasuke," Itachi divulged, instantly putting his companion on edge. After all, Itachi was never one to blurt out his feelings.

"I don't understand why," Itachi's mouth sloped down further, "Akemi doesn't mind babies and Sasuke doesn't seem to mind him, so I don't get why Akemi won't go near him."

Shisui's head cocked as he appraised his younger friend and the worry bearing down upon Itachi like a windstorm bowing a sickly tree.

"Hmmm," Shisui inclined his head to observe the wispy, white clouds dotting the golden peach sky above. "Well, I'm no expert in siblings." Itachi regarded him, gaze searching and intense enough to make Shisui a bit nervous. "Buuut I've heard being the middle child is tough." He steeled himself and looked Itachi in the eye. "Because you're not the privileged first and the new kid's just stolen your spot as the baby."

Itachi considered it, and instantly shook his head. "No, Akemi isn't jealous. He—" Itachi recalled the look on Akemi's face whenever Sasuke was presented to him, how startled and twitchy he became. "He's afraid."

"Afraid?" Shisui sounded surprised. "But of what?" he asked rhetorically, taping his cheek while his eyes rolled heavenward.

For a few seconds, both Uchiha drew into themselves. Yet, Shisui soon broke the silence with a heavy sigh.

The eldest Uchiha glared at the grass by his feet and folded his arms. "Maybe he's afraid," he stretched out every word uneasily, "Of being replaced?"

Itachi recoiled at the idea, but Shisui was still speaking. "Maybe he's worried you like Sasuke more than him."

"No!" Itachi shouted loud enough to scare a few birds into flying away.

Quickly pink glazed over his cheeks and Shisui flashed his teeth, clearly amused. "I didn't mean he was right, calm down," he teased.

Itachi sent him a sour look and Shisui chuckled before elaborating. "Akemi might just think you're replacing him."

Itachi hoped that wasn't the case as he wandered home hours later. But if it was? How could he prove to Akemi that it wasn't true? And what if that wasn't Akemi's problem? How was Itachi supposed to solve anything when he wasn't even sure what the problem was?

Itachi sought Mother's advice after dinner. She smiled, drying her hands on the towel hanging over the dish rack before patting his head. "I'm sure Akemi knows you love him."

He asked how she was certain, but his parent's response, "A mother knows her children," left him more baffled than consoled.

Itachi sighed as he laid in bed that night. There was no one else to turn to. He might have taken the issue up with Father, but the man never liked being reminded how strange Akemi could be. And for some reason, every time a clan member pointed out Akemi's oddities a wide-eyed look came upon the man and he started muttering about babies nursing other babies.

Regardless, Itachi was no closer to a solution the following night when Father and him returned home after a day full of training. Akemi had been with them for the first hour, but after he tripped into Itachi for the third time whilst dodging a round of Father's fireballs, it became clear he couldn't keep up with his twin, so Father dismissed the younger Uchiha in favor of fine-tuning his eldest son's technique.

Itachi's guilt had been festering ever since Akemi's gaze dropped to the floor and the younger boy scrabbled home. It wasn't his brother's fault he couldn't keep up, Itachi was blazing through kunai training and ninjutsu practice faster than everyone their age.

Father ushered Itachi up the staircase, mouth open to tell him to wash up before bed when a familiar cry broke the silence. Resignation quickly overtook Father's expression while anticipation overcame Itachi's since he enjoyed any excuse to see his littlest brother.

However, Itachi only got halfway up the steps before the creak of a door and quick patter of feet rushed into Sasuke's room above. He thought it was Mother until a young male voice asked, "What's wrong, Sasuke?"

Father stiffened and Itachi's eyes grew wide. Akemi was the last person they expected to come to Sasuke's aid, and yet those were definitely his younger brother's feet padding out the nursery and heading towards his own room down the hall.

Itachi moved to follow, determined to observe this new development, but a hand on his shoulder stopped him three feet away from Akemi's door. Itachi glanced behind only to see Father's eyes locking on the scene ahead where they could just barely make out Akemi with his back to them and Sasuke fussing in his arms as the boy seated himself on the bench before his piano.

"Mother changed you an hour ago," Akemi's free hand lowered a baby bottle onto the bench beside his self, his brother apparently having stored some formula in his room. "And you're not drinking so...just can't sleep?"

Sasuke's wails rose a notch as if to agree.

"Hey, hey, it's alright." Akemi shifted, arm stretching out so his fingers could brush over a string of piano keys.

Sasuke's breath hitched, delaying his next cry.

"Oh, did you like that?" Akemi gently rocked him. "How about this then?"

Itachi barely suppressed a gasp when Akemi tentatively began a quiet melody, soft notes bobbing and ebbing like ocean waves extending and contracting upon a sunlit shore. Then gradually increasing in speed and intricacy once Sasuke's cries had diminished into whimpers, the higher pitched chords weaving with the somber chorus so the tune swayed from forte to decrescendos on a whim.

Itachi didn't even notice the minutes passing until the melody hushed and a full beat of silence reigned between every key, time regaining its natural tempo as the song concluded on a high note that trilled in the air even after Akemi removed his fingers from the piano.

Sasuke was laughing, Itachi suddenly realized. Soft, bubbly laughter was rising from the little infant in Akemi's arms as the boy asked, "Did you like that, Sasuke?"

The baby gurgled cheerfully and Akemi's smile shone through his voice, though his next words were unintelligible to Itachi. "Eso es bueno, porque I got this piano with you in mind." His voice suddenly quieted as if he was revealing a highly-guarded secret. "See, we're family now, and family is important." Akemi paused. "I guess what I'm trying to say is..." Itachi pictured the determination lining Akemi's face. "I'll always look out for you because you're my brother, my hermanito, and I-I don't know if I can be as good as Itachi, he's kind of the gold standard for older brothers, questionable future choices aside."

Akemi muttered under his breath before resuming. "But I'll try, otouto, I'll try. Things are going to be better for you this time around, I promise." Tenderly Akemi brought Sasuke up to his face and pulled him into a light hug.

Itachi's eyes moistened at the sight of his baby brother's droopy eyes and rosy cheeks free of tear stains as his head rested on Akemi's shoulder.

Mother had been right and Itachi never been so happy to have Shisui be wrong. Akemi wasn't scared of being replaced, he simply been worried he wouldn't make a good big brother.

For the first time it struck Itachi that Akemi was new to the role of a big brother, unlike himself who had practically been born an older sibling.

"That boy certainly has a will of his own."

Itachi turned back, but in the darkness, could not make out his father's expression. Still, once he and Father had stealthily departed to their respective rooms, Itachi was certain he heard a bit of pride color Father's tone.

.

Itachi came to a sudden realization the night the sealing master was set to come. It began yesterday when Akemi ran into the living room shouting about rats under his bed. Upon further inspection, it seemed the whole house had been infested by the vile rodents.

"I don't understand, the seals are supposed to prevent this type of infestation," Father said, scratching his neck and crouching as he peeled back the living room rug to examine the seal beneath it.

"I don't care how it happened," Mother, unusually severe, hitched Sasuke higher in her arms as if a rat might reach him if he were set any lower. "Sasuke is too young to fight off any type of infection, a rat bite could kill him." Her eyes narrowed to slits. "We won't be staying here tonight."

Father hadn't argued, just hurried away to call for a moving crew and seal master.

The next morning Itachi and the rest of his family returned from their aunt and uncle's place to help the movers pack up all their furniture, since it would be easier to paint new seals around the house without their furnishings getting in the way.

Mother insisted they only needed to send the big stuff to the storage warehouse, but Akemi was adamant they not leave anything behind lest they risk it being contaminated by the rats.

He pointedly stared at the baby in Mother's arms until she conceded.

Three hours later Itachi, having less belongings than Akemi, finished packing his room first so offered a helping hand to his twin. Soon after he was stacking Akemi's sketches in a plastic bin, his vision eclipsed by the images on the papers, always so in awe was he of the artist's attention to detail.

However, while Itachi was putting away the last of the sketches, he happened to glimpse the picture of himself sitting on their house porch with a rosy-cheeked baby in his arms. It was still his favorite drawing since it was one of Akemi's serenest depictions, but for some reason it resonated with him unusually strong today.

Itachi dismissed the feeling, and didn't think of it again until later that night when Mother realized she'd mistakenly packed away Sasuke's favorite squeaky toy. The woman then handed Sasuke to him with the instruction to await the seal master's arrival at their house and show the man in before rushing off to the storage facility. Itachi thus situated himself on the house porch alone, as Akemi was away tending to his weekly custom of challenging the Nara clan head to a shogi match.

Now as Itachi rocked Sasuke to sleep, the older boy found himself examining the close-eyed smile dimpling the baby's rosy cheeks, only to be struck by the feeling he seen Sasuke look just like this before.

Akemi's drawing flashed in his mind, and Itachi's brow knitted together. What a strange coincidence for Akemi to draw Itachi holding Sasuke on a porch much like he was doing now.

It took Itachi three seconds to realize Akemi had not drawn that picture months ago when Sasuke was born.

Akemi had drawn that picture two years ago.

Itachi froze, eyes wide and round, as the memories came crashing in.

"I think Mom is sick."

Akemi turned to Itachi from his seat in the hospital lobby, the plastic chair beneath him squeaking with the motion.

"No, she's not." Neither Akemi's tone nor expression shifted from their placidity.

Itachi frowned, a little hurt his concern had been so quickly dismissed. "But I heard her throw up yesterday, and she threw up again this morning."

Slowly Akemi's neutral expression lightened into a fond smile, an all-too-knowing glint in his eyes. "Don't worry, Nii-san. Mother is having a baby and sometimes women having babies throw up in the morning."

Itachi had blinked wide, moon-sized eyes, so awed by the news he was getting another sibling that he never questioned how Akemi knew Mother was having a baby. Especially since she wouldn't tell them until after they left the hospital.

"This is my friend, Shisui."

Akemi's hand tightened in Itachi's as he zeroed in on Shisui grinning and standing in the forest clearing. However, the smile dropped and Itachi's excitement hastened into concern when Akemi paled, his dark orbs drowning under a torrent of despair. Yet, before either boy could comment, Akemi's grip eased and the sadness slid behind a mask of apathy.

"Hello, Shisui-san." Akemi nodded slightly in greeting, his smile tight. "Are you busy right now?" His lips eased into a line while he pulled out a camera from the satchel slung over his chest. "Would you mind if I take your picture?"

Shisui blinked twice, raising a brow. "Why? You making a collage or something?"

"No, I'm just trying to prove to the Council that the Uchiha clan is suffering from severe inbreeding."

Shisui nearly fell back in shock, but Itachi caught his shoulder and steadied him while Akemi bowled on with a little frustration in his tone. "You have a disturbing resemblance to your ancestor Kagami, so I think showing your picture alongside a portrait of him will strengthen my argument that the clan needs to start integrating outsiders fast." A haunted look deepened and emphasized the tear troughs on Akemi's face as he warned. "Otherwise the next batch of Uchiha will be a bunch of homogeneous freaks."

Shisui eventually recovered enough to let Akemi snap a photo of him, and bid the boy goodbye as the five-year old trotted off in search of further evidence.

"Your brother is," Shisui ran his hand through his hair, "Not what I expected."

Itachi hummed, simply glad his friend had the tact not to mention Akemi's weirdness.

Shisui crossed his arms, expression suddenly perturbed. "Will he be alright?"

Itachi knew Shisui was referring to that look on Akemi's face, the despair and horror too strong for him to completely hide upon meeting Shisui, and now that Itachi thought of it, hadn't there been recognition there too?

"I-I don't know if I can be as good as Itachi."

The words Itachi hadn't payed close enough attention to the night Akemi accepted Sasuke into the family.

"He's kind of the gold standard for older brothers."

Did they mean...could Akemi really...

"Questionable future choices aside."

Could Akemi see the future?

Itachi's heart thumped hard against his ribcage, a foreign sensation outside of his shinobi training sessions and therefore only increased his discomfort, which was steadily turning into alarm.

It was impossible. Uchiha weren't psychic, regardless of what outsiders thought, their Kekkei Genkai did not allow them to see the future. And even if it did, Akemi didn't have the Sharingan anyway.

A cold sweat broke out on Itachi's forehead, the boy oblivious to the strong gust of wind billowing through his hair as the moon shined down and bleached him ashen white.

He needed to find Akemi, ask him what was going on. Or maybe continue investigating, go through all of Akemi's sketches and see if any more of them matched up with real events—

Sasuke whimpered, little body writhing while his face scrunched up in his sleep. Itachi's thoughts came to a full stop as he finally noticed the atmosphere had grown thick and heavy. Like an electrical fence suddenly erected around them, a voice in the back of his head was screaming danger danger!

Itachi leapt to his feet right as the fiercest wind blew past and the world descended into chaos as the Nine-Tails attacked Konoha.

.

Aurelio had stumbled into his college dorm an hour after his final physiology exam. His head was pounding, unsurprising considering how many nights he lost editing final research papers. Therefore, he wasn't thinking much beyond how he could go for a venti caramel frappe' before downing a couple of ibuprofen pills and passing out on his bed.

When Aurelio opened his eyes to see giants standing over him babbling in rapid Japanese, he figured he was dreaming.

When he realized he was in a baby's body and the pink-faced babe next to him in the crib was called Uchiha Itachi he became certain it was a dream.

Then the dream lasted five days and he started having doubts.

Then the dream lasted a whole week and he started to worry.

When the dream lasted an entire month, he screamed into his pillow and cried himself to sleep.

Upon waking the next morning, Aurelio now Akemi spent the whole day thinking.

He was fairly certain he hadn't died. Aurelio had been in good health, only recently turned twenty-two, and was pretty sure final exams couldn't actually kill college students.

So what had happened to him?

This wasn't a dream, reincarnation wasn't at play, and he doubted this was a hallucination, so what gives?

When no answer was forthcoming by nightfall, Akemi decided it didn't matter why or how he was here. Fact was, he was here. For an unforeseen amount of time, Akemi was cursed—blessed to live as an anime character with a yawning lifespan of thirteen years. Oh! And the cute little tyke cooing in the crib beside him was probably going to be the death of him.

Literally.

...

...

No.

No.

Nope, nunca, not happening! Akemi Uchiha—No, Aurelio Giovanni Sanchez-Yanez was not just going to roll over and die.

For goodness' sake, he was barely twenty-two! And even if he would be thirty-five by the time of the Uchiha massacre that was still far too young to die so screw letting Itachi or anybody just kill him off like some pointless background character, and was it wrong he was already considering himself a fictional character? Regardless, Akemi didn't want to die.

So he wasn't going to.

Akemi turned to the doe-eyed baby lying beside him, Itachi's long lashes fluttering as he yawned, and Akemi's heart melted and burned when he recognized he didn't want Itachi to die either. Certainly, a part of it had to do with Itachi being his favorite Naruto character and him maybe shedding a tear or two—outright bawling—when Itachi died, but mainly Akemi couldn't just stand back and watch people suffer. It was why he had been taking psychology courses at the university, Akemi wanted to save lives or at least ease people's suffering.

Akemi raised and stretched his weak, too pale arm. Itachi watched silently as his hand landed atop his head. "Familia es muy importante, that's what my parents have been telling me since I was little," he gently ruffled Itachi's downy hair, "So now that you're family, I'm going to take care of you...Hermano."

After that night, Akemi rarely dwelled on his past or speculated what happened to his original self.

There was just no point pondering uncertainties when the workload was great and time ever-dwindling.


I wasn't going to post this yet, but all my friends say the world's ending so I figured no time like the present! Anyway, please expect SLOW updates as I'm going to need time to rewatch some parts of Shippuden before I feel comfortable posting the next couple of chapters.

Also if anyone's wondering, Iluso del Alma roughly translates to Soul Dreamer. Aurelio means Golden in Spanish and Akemi means Beauty of dawn in Japanese, so both of Akemi's names refer to the color of the early morning sky. Also twins normally get matching names, so I made sure both Itachi and Akemi's names ended with an "i". Finally, since this is a semi-SI, Aurelio's full name is a combination of my family's actual Spanish names.

Thanks for reading! I hope you all enjoyed :)