An alternate universe. Sasuke wins some things and loses others.


Sasuke puts flowers on their graves, Itachi does not. It is not spoken of, but everyone except Sasuke knows Itachi is glad for their parents' death. Sasuke, although he can barely remember them before the war with the Cloud took them away, goes to their graves once a year and prays for them quietly, deeply. Itachi stands with a coat or an umbrella nearby, depending on the weather.

Itachi remembers them very well, and that may or may not be the reason he doesn't give a damn. After all, Sasuke has long since learned that his brother is cruel, sometimes without a cause. Like the way he laughs when Sasuke fails, but always takes care of him anyway. It's painful, and maybe it's not always sincere, but Sasuke really believes his brother tries.

He has to take care of both of them, now that their parents are dead. He does it well, Sasuke is never left hungry or cold or hurt. Itachi always shows up for all of his important days and even congratulates him when he is named best rookie of the year. He does everything a good brother should, and he cooks and cleans and tries to wear an apron and his hair down, like mother used to, although usually he gets fed up all too quickly. Sometimes he locks himself in his room, and sometimes he disappears for days. Sasuke doesn't mind, though. That's just the way his brother is.

His brother never trains him. Sasuke wishes he did, but he doesn't and that's how things are. They never speak of the Shinobi arts in the house, Itachi doesn't like it. He does not discuss missions or even Sasuke's training under their Kakashi-sensei. Sometimes he disappears when Sasuke trains in the house, and sometimes he tells him to stop and get out. Sasuke accepts this as he does all his brother's quirks, quietly.

Sometimes his brother is benevolent. It seems like a difficult thing for him to be, kindness is not something Itachi is proficient at, but sometimes he buys cake for no reason or rents a movie or makes Sasuke's favorite foods and they have a pleasant dinner with conversation. Sometimes he waits deliberately for Sasuke so they can walk to the meeting grounds on the bridge together. Sasuke always makes sure not to mention these things, his brother doesn't handle that very well. Sasuke is afraid that Itachi will stop if he thinks Sasuke notices.

Sasuke likes his brother. He still wonders what life would be like though, if their parents were alive. Maybe Itachi would be nicer. Maybe he wouldn't always be busy with missions or house work or something. Maybe they'd be a really normal family, like Haruno Sakura has. Somehow he doubts it, the thought of Itachi normal is just too strange, but he still wonders.

Sasuke knows Itachi doesn't miss their parents like he does. His brother never speaks of them and the only photographs they have are entirely in Sasuke's possession. He makes sure to keep them away from his brother, just in case. He does not remember them well, those smiling people in the pictures, Sasuke was only three when they died, but Itachi, who was eight, says their father worked a lot and their mother didn't. That's the extent of his say on the topic. Sasuke likes their mother; she looks a little like Itachi, but with longer hair and more of a smile and a prettier, almost younger face. Their father is sort of big and solid and there¸ and Sasuke thinks Itachi might not like him more than mother, but he still looks nice, like someone stern but fair and ready to help.

He himself is only in a few of the pictures, mostly as a baby in his mother's arms. Itachi is there too, surprisingly as he doesn't like photographs, and he is always standing to the side from mother and father together in the middle, with baby Sasuke. His brother never smiles in the pictures, though he rarely smiles in real life, too. Sometimes Sasuke catches him at it, when he thinks no one is looking. It's a strange expression, his brother's face looks frightening instead of happy, but Sasuke thinks Itachi is trying and he ignores it as best he can. Sometimes the expression really does look like a smile and then Sasuke feels good for the rest of the afternoon. Itachi is usually smiling because of him.

Sometimes he tries to do things for his brother. Once he made a scroll with their names and family name on it for a lesson and worked really hard on it. It was supposed to be a calligraphy exercise and Iruka-sensei gave him perfect for it. Itachi liked it, too. He put it on the wall in the hall between their bedroom doors and Sasuke always looks at it before he goes to sleep. It was supposed to have his whole family's names on it, but he didn't really feel comfortable putting the rest in. Iruka-sensei understood and didn't mention it, and neither did Itachi. Sasuke remembers how happy he'd been when his brother actually tipped his head to the side and admired the scroll for a little while before he nailed it to the wall.

Once he remembers being seven and cooking a messy birthday cake for his brother. The kitchen was covered in flour and most of the dishes were dirty and Sasuke nearly burned his hand off, but Itachi just let him do it, disappearing until he was more or less done and then coming back to cut the cake. It didn't turn out to be exactly edible, and his brother threw it away and said Sasuke mixed it wrong. Then he got out a little ice cream cake he'd gotten at the store and they had that, instead.

Sasuke does not have the perfect family. His house is a little cold and a little empty and most of the time he feels lonely. He does not go to festivals because everyone there comes with their parents. His birthdays are quiet, he doesn't like having guests over. In the end, however, there is usually food in the fridge and he doesn't have to do the laundry alone, and Itachi finds a cake and some present for him every year, even if it's never the new kunai sharpening kit he'd wanted. And sometimes they sit on the roof together to watch the fireworks of the spring festival and Itachi tries to smile.

Sasuke wonders about having a family, though.


A/N: Itachi is nicer without his father around. This is my own personal opinion on what he'd be like without parents to constantly push him to be better. Actually, in this AU they've broken with the clan more or less (or rather, Itachi has isolated himself and Sasuke from the Uchiha clan). Still, besides his family, Itachi obviously has some serious issues with his own way of life, or rather with Sasuke being involved in this way of life… in any case, it's only a story. Don't pay too much attention to it.