Disclaimer: Seeing as I am not Japanese, male, or a company specializing in animation, none of these characters belong to me. I don't make any money off them and would like to keep it that way.
Warning: Itachi...you need more of warning than that? This *is* the man who slaughtered his whole family.
A/N: Exploring his character here (what little we know of it). It helps if you've read the parts of the manga that feature Sasuke's brother. Otherwise it don't make any sense.
The first time Itachi's parents let him hold his younger brother, all Itachi could think about was what a tender, fragile neck he had. Not even strong enough to hold up his large, down covered head. It would be really easy to break.
Then Sasuke had brought milk up all over his flak vest and Itachi starting thinking that babies were really gross. Couldn't they trade him in for a dog instead?
But over the following weeks and months, he kept going back to that first thought. Sometimes he would look over Sasuke as he slept. He'd touch Sasuke very, very gently with his own small and calloused fingers. Brushing them over and over that weak neck. Itachi knew about the human body; knew how it worked, knew how to make it stop working. It seemed very odd to him that all the powerful people he'd met and fought and killed on occasion had started out life as this; a weak mewling worm solely dependant on others for survival.
His mother caught it at him once and her voice had sounded strange as she asked him to go wash up for dinner. They didn't let him hold Sasuke anymore after that, which didn't quite make sense to him.
For months they had eagerly pressed his reluctant head against his mother's swollen belly, telling him what a wonderful big brother he will be. If he'd really wanted to kill baby Sasuke, he would have done it then, when he could have taken mother and brother at once.
Not that he'd wanted to hurt or kill either of them, at the time, but he was a practical person and thought about even those things in a practical fashion.
Sasuke had fully mastered walking by the time a year had passed and was even able to speak somewhat. Itachi, who loved quiet most of all, didn't think much of the last, but that didn't stop him from kneeling next to the wide-eyed child and seriously explaining the proper uses of a kunai. Their parents would always watch him with his brother and sometimes Itachi would close his hand on the back of Sasuke's neck or poke his chubby belly with the hilt of the knife, just to see their reactions.
The suspicion in their eyes was fascinating.
But when nothing more than a happy giggle came from these incidents, they stopped watching him. And that was even more fascinating. Didn't they know that this was the best way to trap on enemy?
Not that he considered them the enemy, but he become ANBU captain the following year at least partially because his mind moved in such ways. It was only thoughts, after all, and thoughts are harmless.
When Sasuke was three, their father taught him how to hold his first weapon. He was good at it; this garnered no surprise.
He wasn't as good at it as Itachi had been. This, too, was no surprise.
A week after his little brother stabbed a straw doll with a kunai for the first time, three of Itachi's subordinates died during mission; one of them in his arms. Itachi remembers looking down at the dieing face of a person he had known since the Academy, who had scarified their life for this mission.
He had thought; "how pointless, to die in this way."
And at the funerals he had spoken nice words about these people he had led into death, touched the hands of the wives and the husbands and the children and the siblings, and saying "I'm sorry for you loss."
Except he wasn't. All he could see was his subordinate intercepting a barrage of shuriken that could have been avoided if he were just that much faster; choking on blood and pleading "no, no, I don't want to die, I'm sorry, I don't want to die, no, no." Weak and slow and pitiful.
It made Itachi feel that he was so much better than them.
Sasuke wanted to become Itachi's shadow. With the years he had grown taller, in the slight way of the Uchiha family, still softened by baby roundness. His face was serious but sometimes he smiled and when he did, it was happy and sweet.
Itachi didn't like the way Sasuke's hands fumbled when performing seals. Or the slow way he did his forms or the lack of accuracy when he threw a kunai. Always Itachi told him "Its no good if you don't do it right. Do it again, better this time."
And always their father or uncle or cousin would interrupt and say "No need to push him; he's only a second son. Sasuke is just fine as he is."
This would make Sasuke angry and Itachi did like that. There was nothing worse than second best. If you couldn't be the best, then you were better off dead. Sasuke knew this, Itachi could see it flashing in his eyes whenever Itachi received a praise that he didn't. The rest of the family didn't understand. Happy to call themselves the 'powerful and wealthy' Uchiha clan, while degenerates like the Hyuuga clan held twice the influence over Konoha that they did.
It was then that Itachi realized he was so much better than them, too.
He distanced himself from his family, from their petty desires and squabbling, throwing himself further into his training and his leading and his missions. History books gave testament to the greatness of the Hidden Leaf before the coming of the fox demon, yet everywhere he looked was the lazy indulgence that came with 'peace'. He ferreted out every weakness inside of him like the diseases they were and explored them to the furthest point before abolishing them completely.
Soon, only one weakness remained.
And that one was surprisingly easy to do away with too.
"Sasuke, don't come in here."