Summary: Why do you always ask, knowing that I will never say 'yes?'

Shoutei

By Geno Calamari

It is the same routine every day. "Aniki, will you teach me shuriken jutsu after school today?"

Always, you ask me to teach you or spar with you. Never once do you stop to think that you wouldn't like it when I really sparred with you. Or that my lessons might be too advanced for your juvenile mind. You fail to appreciate the danger of the knowledge I hold.

No, what you want is more along the lines of 'play.'

And I have no time to play, not even for you Sasuke. Ask father, he has more than enough time to indulge in your petty ninja fantasies. You don't know what it is like to be a ninja. You have never seen a man die before he heard his killer. You have never felt blood on your face and realized that it wasn't your own. Afterward, you have never been stuck with the realization that you can't remember which corpse it came from.

No, Shoutei, you are far more interested in the glamorous trappings of power. The way your eyes light up when I move too fast to follow, or when I accomplish some 'amazing' show of ninja skill. You are impressed by my power, idolize me as some god-like being from the ancient legends. To you, I am Bishamon or Amaterasu.

It worries me.

Long ago, otouto, I came to the realization that you have a dangerous soul. Perhaps I am the only one who sees how much it hurts you when father ignores your successes. When he brushes you aside in favor of his older, more capable son. The disappointment is visible, like a cloak around your small, underdeveloped body. Then it hardens over into something more disturbing. Resolve.

You try too hard. You will always try too hard.

That is because they pin hopes… no, expectations… on you that you could never reasonably achieve. Father wants another Itachi and mother doesn't have a thought in her head. She was a female with an excellent genetic pedigree, nothing more. Uchiha females are far less useful than males, anyway. This is something that you will never understand, otouto, but it is better that you not know. Uchiha politics are draconian.

The Uchiha clan wants to grow, and by its very nature, consume the techniques and bloodlines of other clans while preserving and protecting our own. Our precious Sharingan. Males can marry outside of the clan and bring in fresh blood to revitalize our clan, bringing their knowledge and techniques with them. Females are unwanted because other clans can (and will) try to do precisely the same to our clan. They are a danger to the Sharingan, and are not given the degree of freedoms or privileges their brothers enjoy. But my thoughts digress, Sasuke.

The clan wants you to be me, albeit a docile and controllable version. They want a weapon and you're going to give it to them if you are not careful. Your soul is dangerous and you struggle to be acknowledged as anything other than 'Itachi no otouto.' You are too eager to learn the art of death.

What child would want to learn the ways of the ninja from the right hand of the reaper? Certainly no normal child. But you have never been normal. They call you a genius, a prodigy. 'Just like his brother,' they say, but you don't notice that they fear to say my name, do you? The clan wants you to be more skilled than I. They want you to be insurance against me.

But you won't be.

For you and I are different, Sasuke. You may have the single-minded drive to succeed, but aspirations are useless without the potential. Genius is on the opposite side of the coin from potential, but one is just as important as the other. They are mated, in their own strange way. One day, shoutei, I will show you the truth of this.

You are weak. You will always be weak. My Sharingan eyes can see deep into your soul, Sasuke. You hunger for power, thirst for it, dream of it, though you do not yet know why you seek it, much less what it will cost.

It is a common flaw, an Uchiha flaw.

I can see it even now, even while you are still a child. One day, you will grab for all the strength you can, regardless of reason. It is in your destiny, marked in your very essence.

Things cannot continue as they are, Sasuke. Were it just you and I, I may be capable of bringing you back from the path you have unconsciously chosen. But the world beckons and time refuses to stand still.

I refuse to teach you. Maybe this time.

You pout, even if you knew I was going to refuse, because you are truly disappointed. If I am affected, I do not show it. The fragile flame of hope is destroyed.

It irritates me that you fail to grasp the lesson I am teaching. Then you insult me for ignoring you.

You speak as though your inalienable right was being violated. I am not required to teach you anything otouto. Until I decide that you are worthy of learning my techniques, I will give you nothing. Never forget who it is that holds the upper hand, shoutei.

Every day, you come to me to tap the wisdom and knowledge as though I were a fount. It never fails to astound me that you actually expect me to just hand over what you desire.

Nothing comes without sacrifice, otouto.

The Uchiha have forgotten what it means to sacrifice. In forgetting the cost of power, the clan has become arrogant and weak. Without the struggle to realize our own potential, we are merely handicapping ourselves.

Can you really blame the clan, though? It is the nature of our birthright, of our awesome Sharingan eyes. What can you expect from a clan who's unofficial motto is 'We are Uchiha. We take what we want?' We take without understanding. It is mere child's play for us to learn techniques in moments that take other ninja months or even years to master.

This is wrong. Our greatest strength will ultimately prove to be our undoing.

I suggest you ask father, for I know he does nothing important all day.

You frown and tell me that everyone knows my techniques are the best. I feel a bit of pride, just for a moment. Ruthlessly, I stamp out the feeling before it is fully realized.

Have you ever thought, shoutei, that the reason my techniques are the best is because I do not share them with anyone? I do not even teach them to my ANBU team-members. They are responsible for watching my back in battle. You are merely my little brother, so why should I teach you when I do not extend the same courtesy to my closest allies?

A flash of anger passes through me. That you could be so stupid… It burns like a personal insult.

You didn't notice. Foolish as you are, otouto, you fail to realize exactly what you do to me. You are the only one who can reach me now. Alone among the throng, you are unafraid of me, Sasuke. You can see the way they act around me, as though I will be provoked at a mere careless word or thought, and yet you still speak to me as though I am a person, worthy of attention and compassion.

For that kindness, I will save you from yourself, though you will not thank me for it.

I beckon you closer, as I have so many times before. You expect what is coming next, but you do not know that I always take the opportunity to examine you a little closer. There is still a fighting chance for you; you are not so far gone. Yet.

Learn otouto, struggle with your lessons and fight through it on your own. If you learn the lesson through the long road, you will come to understand why. Only then can you be truly powerful.

Perhaps one day you will come to understand I am the strongest of our clan /because/ I am unfettered by the clan. I am ANBU, not police like father. I am my own man, not a servant of a bloated and self-important clan.

Maybe you will even understand why I will go through with it. You wouldn't understand now.

I poke you on the forehead, as per usual, and apologize. Again, you miss the meaning behind my words.

But you couldn't know my mind was already planning for tonight, accounting for all possibilities and preparing contingencies. If an Uchiha escapes the compound, I will be forced to hunt them through the city. It would behoove me, so I must work with the maximum rapidity.

After I am finished tonight, nothing will shackle you from reaching the height of your potential. You will be free, Sasuke, though you will not see it as such. Reach that height, as modest as it may be.

You will have no teachers, no family, no one to hand you the answers. It will be the hardest thing you have ever done. To master the Sharingan without the guidance of a clan member is… difficult, to say the least. But when you have succeeded, then you will be as strong as you will ever be. At that moment, you will gain a bit of insight into my own strength.

I have to do it, otouto. Otherwise you will be nothing more than a pawn in their games. Your life will be dictated down to the very last moment by the clan. Individuality is not highly-regarded, but conformity is a prized trait among the members of our clan.

One day, you will search for power. It will be your downfall, but that is your destiny. If I stay and do nothing, you will search for the power to become greater and more terrible than I.

If I go through with my plan, you will search for the strength to kill me and avenge the clan. You don't know any better, but that is alright. You are foolish and young.

I close the door to our house behind me without ever responding to you. You suspect nothing, for it is how we always have interacted.

The motto of our clan is actually 'There is no doubt, only action.' That much is true. I consider my actions without thought of consequence. It is a skill honed from long missions of barely disguised premeditation. As a ninja, I have accepted assassination missions before. 'Assassination mission' is merely a different name for socially-conscious murder. The reasons are irrelevant. There is no emotion in it. It cannot be considered a crime-of-passion. For the client, they want someone dead enough to pay for it. For us, we want money enough to kill for it.

'Was it the job that made him snap?' they will ask, and that irritates me. I do not care about their opinions or their theories, but somewhere deep inside it grates against me to think that they will pervert my reasons for acting. Misunderstanding is the most dangerous of all human failures, but I have always been misunderstood so it is nothing new.

I have never before stopped to consider myself jaded. In all fairness, I would have to say that I am.

I am the strongest of our clan, so it is fitting that I am the architect of its demise. The thought strokes my ego in a way I find most unpleasant. That is a part of me I thought long-dead.

I pass father in the street. He suspects something. After all, he would not be in the position he is today if he were not perceptive. But he does not bring attention to it. Refusing to accept the truth about your own is just as foolish as expecting to knowledge to be handed to you on a silver platter.

Just for a second, a self-satisfied smile crosses my lips. I know father cannot see it, but it matters little. He wouldn't understand. By the very fact he doesn't stop me in the hall proves that he does not have the strength to do what needs to be done.

He should stop me, drag me aside and interrogate me, but he does not. Being who he is, he would be within his rights to act upon his suspicions. Whether from some hidden sense of paternal pride or fear of me, I cannot say. He lets me pass without question. The benefit of the doubt is his folly.

I stop at the end of the hall. Hearing my footsteps fall silent, he stops as well. He examines me quizzically.

"Call a meeting of the clan heads. This afternoon. I wish to speak."

He nods, although it is obvious that he does not understand. It is best this way, though I am not thinking of my father. No, my considerable mental power is already bent to task of preparing for tonight, and the only thought I spare for father is 'It will be far more efficient if they are gathered together.'

Nothing more is said, so I walk away, content in the knowledge that my father will do exactly as I asked. A stray thought flits into my mind. 'I should attach exploding tags beneath the seats.' I do not bother to consider the repercussions of my plans. No, it would be more effective to work through them one-by-one. So that is what I will do.

After I kill the clan heads, I will circle the Uchiha compound. Setting down a path in my mind, I debate the merits of moving by street to crossing rooftop, and I decide that for the sake of visibility the rooftops are more viable. Only absently do I note that moving in such a way will inspire terror in the clan, making my task so much simpler. Fear is a weapon as well, and I would be in error to forget it. This pleases me, though I do not act upon it.

Understanding is a blade with no hilt, impossible to grip without hurting yourself.

With a deep breath to steady myself, I go to collect my weapons.

Owari

Author's Notes:

I came up with this one on the spur of the moment, but I decided to run with it. No beta reader and completed in less than an hour. It's a nice gateway fic into the world of Naruto fanfiction for me.

Shoutei means 'my foolish brother' and that's just perfect for Sasuke and Itachi..

I updated this, because I realized that I had more to say. I felt that I ignored certain aspects of Itachi's personality. Also, I felt that there wasn't enough thought put into the act itself. And I really wanted to flesh out the whole Uchiha male/female thing just a bit more. It is an idea I would like to play around with later.