I've wanted to do this for a while…
Not really ItaSasu but it investigates that relationship, and there's hints of SasuNaru. Like a bedroom scene.
But I liked how this one came out—it's vaguely minimalism style so it shouldn't take too long to read but I think I said a lot—there's just too much stupid hatred towards Sasuke lately, and it's been ticking me off. So a Sasuke fic! A rather long, involved Sasuke fic written in minimalism style that I really LIKED how well this came out for how long it took me…about 2 hours…but still! …I think I just shot myself in the foot. Aw well, not the first time, not the last.
Note: Anti-angst. Not very fluffy either, but definitely anti-angst.


Sometimes, Sasuke wondered if his family would notice if he ran away.
Itachi would, but then Itachi noticed everything. He wasn't so sure about his father though.

All the things you never-said can stay unsaid if you let them.

"Hey jerk wad! You ready?"
Sasuke grunted.
"You brought your share, right?"
Sasuke grunted.
"That stick up your ass seven inches or nine?"
"Fuck you."
"Hah! In your dreams, sucker, in your dreams."
Sasuke didn't dream much anymore.

Your life is not just yours.

Sasuke watched from behind the kitchen door as his mother tended to the stove and his brother filled out a report at the table. Both were immersed in their work.
The stove and oven were very hot.
Sasuke dithered, before finally coming forward, his steps softer than a mouse's and almost as hesitant. He was so slow his mother left the kitchen without seeing him.
Sasuke watched her leave, before completing the journey to the stove. He looked at it. His brother continued to write.
Itachi's head turned when he heard his brother scream, holding his wrist tightly and most of his hand in his mouth. Itachi only got the cream and bandages before gently tending to his hand.
Sasuke didn't cry. His family didn't cry.
Itachi just said, "Next time, wear a mitten before you touch something hot, okay? Please? For me?"

The price is sometimes too much.

Naruto bustled around his tiny apartment, looking annoyed, embarrassed, and incredibly happy with his new 'company' all at the same time.
Sasuke stood out of the way while the blonde started heating up the teapot.
"What? Whaddaya want now?"
"Ramen," Sasuke stated, "Is the most god-awful shit on the face of the earth and I'm not eating any."
Naruto's outrage knew no bounds.

Sometimes the price is just right.

Sasuke compared his growth to other children of the Uchiha clan (he wasn't old enough for the Academy yet, nor advanced like Itachi had been). Next to them, he was misplaced—outside his age range. Next to Itachi, his existence was so miniscule it was nearly erased.
Itachi seemed skilled without meaning to, but he was certainly skilled.
He would never reach his father's expectations, but then his father never seemed to have any expectations of him at all.
Perhaps he forgot he had a second son.
Even as a child, Sasuke's mind was logical.
He only had to look at Itachi—dark, quiet, composed—and he really couldn't resent his father for forgetting the second mousy figure in the background.
He wondered who then, exactly, he was supposed to resent.

You are not your shadow and you do not own him.

"Today you'll be walking on snow, which is harder than walking on wood or water since there's pocket of air inside. In essence, you're walking on water and air. I expect you all to pay attention and do your best, which means Sasuke, stay in the vicinity. Sakura, keep your eyes on your own feet, and Naruto, give me that book. …Nice book. Now—get to work."

Your friends are not your family.

Sometimes, Sasuke wondered if his family would notice if he died.
He was sure they'd be sad, in their own way, as families were when a member was lost, but would they notice?
There was a difference.
Would the household really change without him in it? Did the world really need a second son?
He didn't know.
His mother said his father talked about him all the time, when he wasn't there. How it was always, "Sasuke this," and "Sasuke that."
That had made him smile. Not blush with pleasure, but smile. His mother was like that. He wasn't sure how his father was.
His father rarely said anything to him—he always talked to Itachi about work, and Itachi to him about family.
To make his father speak to him, Sasuke had to show off. He did a man's work in a child's body and suffered for it. His father spoke to him, and told him it was good.
In the end, Sasuke decided the price needed for his father to speak to him, to turn and see him, was worth every drop of sweat and blood.
Itachi didn't work for his father attention—it was simply there, like his gift.
Sometimes, Sasuke got very angry about it.
Sometimes, he wanted to hate his father, but he was too young for that.
So instead, he got angry at himself, and that energy and emotion he pushed himself far. Not as far as Itachi had gone, but far all the same.
His mother was kind and gentle and a wizard of a cook in the kitchen that was always well stocked. She was neither too fat or too loud or too invasive—she, like the rest of the Uchiha clan, was perfect for her role.
She spoke to Sasuke, sometimes.
And, as perfect mothers often do, she faded into the background.

Adults lie to make children feel better, and sometimes it works.

Naruto's right hook in his gut left him winded, and he struck out with his feet at his knee. Sasuke got lucky—Naruto yelled out, proving him with just enough time to take him down and twist his arm while he counted in his head to 10, Naruto struggling energetically under him.
Then he let go, a grin snaking along his lips as Naruto swore colorfully.
"Sakura, you're up."
"Aw man, I can't fight a girl and win."
Sasuke winced and prepared himself for the tirade.
"You beat me, you pig, and I'll go out on a date with you. But, if you lose to then…you know that purple lacy dress I have? The one you like so much?"
"You'll be wearing it. Seven days straight."
Sasuke caught her eye and smirked.
Sakura didn't even blush.

Your friends are not of blood, but of will.

He was advanced for his age. He was advanced for his clan. And it was all due to hard work—not some freak of genetics, a natural (or unnatural) genius but honest sweat and blood paid to achieve his goal.
Success hadn't come easy for Sasuke, but it had come all the same. Little by little, it would come. Maybe not as easily as it had for his brother. Maybe not as fast. But it would come.
It would come because…it had to. It had to.
Only Itachi (and sometimes his mom) cared if he rant into the door or skinned his knee or burned his hand.
It would come. It had to come. He might as well stop breathing, if it didn't come. He needed it. Maybe he didn't want it, but he needed it.
It was 2 AM and he was out on the dock, staring into black water. It was very cold and very quiet. His legs ached from hanging over the edge. Dark/sad thoughts floated and sank in his mind, slithered across the back of his eyeballs and curled on his lower lip.
He hadn't had a good day.
If I die, will anyone miss me once the year is past? Will anyone care? Does this world really need me?
It…it has him. What does it need of me?
Why should he like me? What good am I? Compared to him…

Itachi sat does next to him, his feet nearly touching the water on his long legs.
Sasuke leaned, and Itachi put his arm around him, cradling him close to his side, body still warm from his bed and smelling like water and wood and maybe a hint of something metallic.
He stroked his back and looked out over the lake, while Sasuke looked inside.
It would have made things…simpler, to hate Itachi. To feel the rivalry normal families felt. Simpler, but not easier.
Itachi was the only one who seemed to not just love him, but to know who he was as well. That simple acknowledgement and understanding—knowing what went through Sasuke without asking—put Itachi beyond hatred, beyond rivalry, beyond even equality, and into a hopeless helpless resentful pedestal of adoration.
Itachi held him gently, and seemed to read his mind.
"The important thing is that you appreciate yourself. That you love yourself. You…can't make other people love you."
He was talking about their father.
"You can't make them happy with what you do. They decide if they'll be happy—you can't make that decision for them, only yourself. Do what'll make you happy."
Sasuke clung to Itachi's shirt and his own stubbornness as he stared into the water. He wasn't going to admit he was wrong.
What would Itachi know of being second best anyway?
"In the end, that's all you can do, really."
A comfortable silence settled, each lost in their private thoughts, a familiar truce in action.
"Do you love me?"
Itachi hesitated only a second.
His mother would've said it warmly, and given him a hug. Itachi said it flatly, as if he were reciting the date, a matter beyond his control and slightly trivial.
"I wish I could be like you…" Sasuke muttered softly, heart bare and bleeding and sly as a field mouse.
To be like Itachi, smart and fast and strong…be like Itachi, to be by his side, just to be near him somehow made…everything all right. Itachi was their father's son, and he loved Sasuke. So their father loved Sasuke, because Itachi did.
And Sasuke loved Itachi.
Itachi said nothing.
Sasuke didn't see his eyes, and he wouldn't have been able to describe what he saw in them anyway. He was staring at his hands, very small next to Itachi's, and very soft. Just as pale, but so much softer, like bread.
When he fell asleep, Itachi picked him up and carried him home.

We are of blood and this cannot be changed.

The cold woke Sasuke up, and he scowled and pulled at Naruto's bangs. The blonde didn't even stir, tightly wrapped up in his stolen blankets and sleep. Sasuke could've done more, but contented himself to stare.
Not for the first time, he caught himself wondering what Naruto would taste like, if he were to kiss him.
Probably salty. And very, very nice.

Is this normal? He is not your blood. He is not family.
Who are you really in love with?

"I thought you loved me."
Itachi looked…distant. He usually did. "I don't see what that has to do with anything."
"You're not supposed to do hurt people you love!"
"If you can't hurt the people you love, what right do you have to hurt anyone else? If you aren't willing to experience pain, what justification can you possibly have for making another suffer it?"
"Don't fuck around! You didn't have to do that! You didn't…you didn't have to—"
"I did. Not only did I need to, but I wanted to as well. I had wanted to…for some time."
"Then why not me? Why the fuck did you have to spare me?"
"It's not always about you, Sasuke. Do you feel spared? Special?"
"…No. No I don't. I think you're screwing around with me, with my mind. You always loved to do that…"
"Sasuke, just because you hate me, doesn't mean I'm not your brother."
"What does that mean?"
"I always leave a backdoor open. It would do you well to do the same."

Blood spilled is not blood shared.

Naruto's hands fumbled inside his pants, swearing softly when Sasuke shoved them away and pushed him harder into the mattress, spurred on by a fear Naruto wouldn't understand.
What do you know of love? What do you know of value?
You've never lost it.
You don't know anything.

Naruto tumbled him, his tongue hot and invasive as he always was, fingers stroking through his hair and pulling gently.
Sasuke worked his shirt off.
Just loneliness.
Sasuke tilted his head back and groaned, Naruto's teeth scraping ever so lightly against the curve of his neck and smelling like baked salt.
Companionship isn't love. You idiot. You big stupid idiot.
I envy you.
You lucky bastard. You don't know a thing.
I wish I didn't either.
It wasn't worth the price.

Sasuke tried to stop thinking.

What are you to me? Why should I care?

"Why don't you kill me too? Why don't you finish what you started? …You're a coward. You couldn't go all the way, you didn't have the guts."
"You still don't understand."
"Understand what? How can I understand? I've never understood you, no one does!"
"No. And I don't think anyone ever will. It doesn't matter."
"What do you mean?"
"You are still my brother, whether you like it or understand me, and this cannot be changed. You are my brother, you are my anchor."
"And when you're dead I have to put everything back together, right? I have to fix what you broke?"
"You still don't get it? After all this and you still don't get it?"

Whatever you do, he will never be happy with you.

"I thought you loved me."
"I do."
Then why?"
"Why not? What does love have to do with anything?"

Blood is not love, but it binds all the same.

A/N: This fic included Itachi, more or less, because of something Compagnie said. I blame his development on her. I was going to make it more of a Sasuke/father/Kakashi/Naruto thing, but Itachi has too much involvement to be excluded, so he wasn't.

La sir, but you sure do know how to make a simple country girl's head turn, and no mistake!
--Nanny Ogg, Lords and Ladies, Terry Pratchett