Disclaimer: Being the property and creation of Kishimoto Masashi, the manga, anime, and name Naruto are not mine. I own none of the characters or their names mentioned in this story. All credit goes to Masashi, because without him this story would not exist.

As a courtesy, I'm reminding readers that this story is rated M (NC 17). This story will contain mature content. Chapters may contain blood, violence, swearing, intimate situations… but then that is to be expected with this rating, right? Anyway. You've been sufficiently been warned.

Terms-I use the word otouto (Japanese for younger brother), and aniki and sometimes niisan (both are Japanese for older, or oldest brother), as I think they have an endearing sound to them personalizing the brotherly relationship more than saying just brother.

Chapter One: Understanding Sasuke-"I Wish I Could Stay, But I Have To Go."

He was attacked by four ninja from the hidden village of sound. They had only been toying with him, and he was easily defeated. It was the reminder of how weak and pathetic he was. None of the four missed an opportunity to remind him of his weakness as they threw him into walls and trees. Hung him upside down like some sort of rag doll. They taunted and teased as if he wasn't of the great Uchiha clan, but a dead last dropout. And the fact that they tossed him around so easily did nothing to prove their words wrong. As if to pour salt into his wounds they reminded him of his life's purpose to kill his brother Itachi, and his failure to do so.

Their words were well aimed. Dredging up memories of a time not so long ago when Sasuke came face to face with his older brother. He'd used all his experience and training to attack his brother and was easily countered and avoided. His brother left him with many physical injuries as well as mental trauma. He was defeated as easily as a bug was squashed. It was an extremely humiliating encounter. His brother tossed him about with ease, held him against the wall by his neck and called him weak. He'd felt like such a failure. He was helpless against his brother's attacks, and he wasn't happy to be reminded of that. He curled his lip in frustrated anger. "Fuck the sounds, fuck Itachi, and fuck this village." He spat.

Bracing his back against the wall he was so unceremoniously thrown against a few minutes ago, he stood, pressing his palms against the wall, walking his hands up to help support his sore, beaten body. He needed to get home. Wincing, he jumped to a large tree branch and landed with a soft thump. He pursed his lips together, tight, demanding himself not to scream. "Hmph, nnnn," he groaned out in agony. He really wanted to scream. His landing jarred his broken ribs, causing a sharp pain to pulse through his upper body. Ever so slowly he lowered himself to hands and knees, taking short sharp breaths, willing his body to forget about the pain.

Closing his eyes he saw the four ninja in his mind, replayed the fight. Unconsciously he put a hand to his broken ribs. "Tsss." He hissed, baring his teeth. 'Man do they hurt'… 'Pathetic.' He lowered his head, his hair falling and shielding his face from the harsh light of the moon. 'I'm so weak.' He felt so ashamed. The great Uchiha Sasuke, avenger of his clan, got his ass handed to him… again. And now he was on hands and knees, head bowed, feeling sorry for himself. 'Useless.' Had his training done him any good at all?

Before they left, the four sounds had told him he'd never become stronger if he stayed here in Konoha. Was that true? Sasuke took a mental tally of his missions, and frowned at the results. 'Finding lost cats, pulling weeds, picking up garbage, grocery shopping…' He frowned. His team had been on a few dangerous missions, but overall they were silly little chores. As irritating as the four sounds were, they were right. He could be so much further along if he'd been given more real missions. If he'd been born somewhere like the sound village how much stronger would he be?

He understood how missions were assigned in Konoha, and the system made sense when explained, but he couldn't afford to live in that system. If that was the way this village worked then he needed a new one, not because he hated this one, but because he needed skills they weren't ready to teach him. It was a reality Sasuke had to face no matter how much he didn't want to. He needed to kill his brother, and these menial little jobs couldn't possibly prepare him for that. His latest encounter with Itachi was proof enough of that. "Ugnn," he growled, scraping his fingers against the rough bark as he clenched his hands in fury. He was so helpless.

A sharp pain shot through his chest and stomach. His body tensed in shock and he fell to his elbows, squeezing his eyes shut. He put his head on his forearms, taking deep breaths through his nose trying to ignore the new pain.

He felt sick, as though his insides were trying to tear themselves apart. He wanted to vomit; his stomach twisted and roiled until he began heaving just shy of actually losing his stomach contents. He was thankful for the dark fall of hair that shielded his face from view, not that anyone could see him prostrate on elbows and knees high up in a tree, but it somehow allowed him the small luxury that perhaps this wasn't happening. That if he hid long enough behind that hair, or kept his eyes closed tightly enough the feelings of helplessness and hate would disappear… 'If only.'

He forced himself upright feeling like he weighted a ton. It was hard work. He'd wanted to just sink into that tree branch and stay hidden in the darkness and silence. He sighed. Such were not his luxuries, and so he slowly scuffled his way home, the sounds' taunts mentally following him the whole way.

His bedroom was dark, but Sasuke didn't care. It suited his mood. Moonlight filtered through his large window, highlighting a picture he had sitting on a large table, calling his attention to it. He cringed. It was a picture of them. The last thing he wanted right now was a reminder of them, but he made his way toward it anyway.

He was leaving them, leaving Konoha, his home since childhood. Kakashi's words echoed in his mind, 'Sasuke, forget about revenge'. 'You and I have important friends now, don't we?' Yes, they were all important to him. He studied the picture he had of the four of them. The sight of them, his friends, drained his anger and humiliation from earlier. Now he only felt resignation and sorrow. They were important enough to him that he would not hang around here and let his weaknesses hurt them.

Unbidden, visions of he and Naruto, his best friend, fighting flooded his mind. He saw himself pounding Naruto with legs and fists, burning him with giant fire attacks, skewering him with chidori. "Naruto," he whispered, touching to blond boy's face through the picture.

'Sasuke, forget about revenge.' His teacher's voice echoed through his mind again.

He loved Kakashi, he was the older brother he should have had, but this was more than just losing people important to you, this was betrayal of the worst kind. Saying that it was broken trust and murder just couldn't begin to describe Itachi's atrocity. His hero, his blood, his legendary genius brother whom he had so badly wanted to be like had taken his trust, his love, his family… everything. He had taken everything away, and shown no remorse.

Back then Itachi had looked at his younger brother's emotionally crushed teary-eyed face with cold, unfeeling, unflinching eyes. Tormented him with images of his entire family being cut down in cold blood. Called him worthless and weak, and left. That was it. And when asked why he did it the answer was simple. 'To measure my capacity.' The reason why Sasuke's world was ruined was summed up in one coldly stated simple sentence. 'To see what I was capable of.'

How could he accept that? To accept that reason would be to say 'okay, I understand'. But Sasuke didn't understand. That reason just wasn't good enough; it didn't explain enough. And Sasuke just couldn't let that go. He couldn't let any of it go, and so it slept inside him, a dark demon, awakening to different stimuli and manifesting itself in irrational anger and hate. When that devil woke every fowl thought, scrap of hate, and desire for vengeance flooded to the surface of his mind, consuming any reminders of love or good he had in his life. And he would become an evil and uncaring son of a bitch until he could force the beast back into hibernation.

Yes, his new friends, new family, were very important to him, but there was a barrier between them, one that Sasuke had put up long ago and kept reinforcing. He couldn't let anyone get close to him. He naturally pushed people away, naturally kept them at arms length. His trust in people had been broken so thoroughly that he didn't think it could ever be repaired.

He picked up the picture of he and his friends, bringing it closer to his face, studying their expressions. He gently ran his fingers over their faces, caressing them lovingly, almost in wonder. "If you could only understand." Sasuke whispered.

He wished so much he could tell Naruto and Sakura how important they were to him, but the fact was that a part of him still wanted to deny they'd snaked their way into his heart. That same part was the dark part, the one that searched for that evil deceitful seed that those closest to him possessed. Looked for the sign that would tell him their betrayal was coming.

He had nightmares of Kakashi, or Naruto, or even Sakura, the culprit changed with the nightmare, but the end result was always the same. They'd never really had feelings for him; it was only pretend to lull him into a false sense of trust to get close enough to destroy all that was dear to him. It disturbed him most when he had to watch Sakura get butchered by Naruto or Kakashi. She'd be crying out for him, and he wouldn't be able to move. Her blood would splatter across his face, cover the walls & floor, and her eyes would meet his before she'd breath her last breath asking why he didn't save her. Accusing eyes… "Sakura," He closed his eyes and pictured her sweet ever-smiling face.

He wanted Sakura; he wanted to love her like she did him, but he just couldn't let go of the past. He couldn't forget. He wanted to, he really did, but if he let them any further into his heart it would hurt worse when they were taken away. Not if, when. In his mind at least one of them would betray him, even though his heart told him they cared for him. His heart had been wrong before. "Damn you Itachi." He hissed in a low deadly whisper.

He hated so much that he let his brother's betrayal turn him into the seemingly unfeeling monster his friends saw. Of course when his rage broke out he was a heartless bastard. But then they seemed to understand him a bit. They must realize he cared for them on some level… in his own way, or they wouldn't accept him as much as they did. Especially Sakura. If she couldn't see deep inside him to his heart, then he couldn't understand why she still chased him like a lovesick puppy. Unless… she was pretending, just trying to get close. He shook his head. 'No that wasn't possible, not Sakura… right'?

Maybe he wasn't giving them enough credit. Perhaps they didn't need the fluffy words and hugs to realize they were important to him. After all hadn't he said as much when he and Naruto were facing off against Gaara? He'd called them important friends.

Was there a chance that he could swear off revenge? Stay in Konoha and forge a new family with team seven? Sure, he had failed miserably so far, but maybe he hadn't tried hard enough to let them in. Maybe more time with Naruto, Sakura, and Kakashi would lull his deep-rooted hatred back to sleep, allow him to concentrate on them. He smiled. He could just hear their voices now. 'Sasuke bastard!' 'Sasuke-kun!' His family… That thought was nice, but fleeting as he remembered his encounter with Naruto earlier on the roof of the hospital.

He'd really tried to hurt Naruto today. He and Naruto had always been rivals, but they were also comrades. They trusted each other with their lives, relied on one another; they were best friends, and earlier today none of that had mattered to Sasuke. He wanted nothing more than to beat the shit out of Naruto because he was so angered at himself for not being good enough. He'd even went so far as to use the assassination technique, chidori, against his best friend. He might have killed him. Thank goodness Kakashi had shown up in time to stop the fight.

Now, in hindsight, Sasuke felt ashamed of himself, but he was so blinded by rage and self-loathing that at the time he could see none of that. Naruto seemed to be gaining everything Sasuke was supposed to have, strength, power, the ability to protect those important to him; everything that Sasuke was failing at lately.

His only thought was that if he could beat Naruto soundly enough then he'd prove himself worthy, or at least slightly less useless, and that was dangerous and unacceptable, not to mention false. It would not change his defeat against the sound. If he'd succeeded in delivering a crushing defeat to Naruto it still would not have convinced Sasuke of his own worth. Instead it would have left him feeling guiltier and weaker than he did now, if that was possible. To need to beat the kid called dead last to feel tough. 'What's becoming of me?'

His inner demon was hurting his friends, his new family, and changing him in ways he didn't much like. He wouldn't, no couldn't, let them close, and now he tried to severely hurt Naruto. Something had to be done, and as far as Sasuke could see he had two choices: to continue his life and try to forget, or sell his soul to the devil, Orochimaru, in an attempt to quiet the darkness raging inside him.

It was too dangerous to bury his hate. He acted too violently, too unpredictably when it finally woke, like today with Naruto. No, he couldn't bury it. And he certainly couldn't forget. That was just physically impossible. Even if his waking mind could forget, his sleep filled one would remind him. His frequent nightmares would remind him, and with new enemies kicking his ass almost daily, reminding him of his weakness and inability to protect his friends, his hate seemed ever present on the surface. It was no longer buried.

Sasuke's failures began to stack up in his mind. He was too weak to fend off the four sounds, too weak to break the Raijin no Ken, too weak to beat Aoi, too weak to take down Gaara, even when Sakura's life was on the line, and… he was too weak take down his brother, who was threatening to hurt Naruto. He gritted his teeth at the thought of him, his name scraping against his insides like a trapped beast. "Itachi", he growled & hissed. The sound of that name on his ears, the thought of it in his head brought white and black spots of rage to his eyes. It blinded him with hate, fury, betrayal, loss…

He wanted so much to deliver every tiny spark of pain that Itachi made him feel back on him ten fold. He wanted his brother to feel what he'd made him feel. And Why? Understanding? Closure? Recovery? Disbelief… There was a thought. Disbelief… Yes, there was a part of him that still couldn't believe his brother was capable of such a deed. He would have a hard time believing anyone could commit such an atrocity, but this wasn't just anybody. This was his brother.

Sasuke imagined that if he could just visit enough pain on his brother, pound him with fists and legs hard enough Itachi would understand and feel the hurt he had caused him. Then Itachi would hang his head in shame and apologize. 'I'm sorry Sasuke. I had no idea.' Because surly if he had known the hurt and pain it would cause his otouto, he never would have done it, right? Because to admit that he knew and still did it would be to accept that he meant nothing to his brother. That all of Sasuke's visions of a loving brother carrying him on his back, offering to attend his school functions when his own father would not would be a lie. That his brother was pretending…

Itachi's words rang through his head. 'Foolish otouto. I played the role of the brother you always wanted… to test your capacity.' It had all been a lie. He'd never loved him, only pretended, and Sasuke had believed it. Sure they'd had their problems like all siblings, but he had loved Itachi.

Sasuke grabbed at his chest, fisted his shirt in his hands until his fingers were a deep red and his knuckles a stark white. It hurt. It hurt so much it drowned out everything else, new friends included. More than revenge, Sasuke needed closure. "Niisan," he whispered.

He hadn't realized Itachi's transgressions had damaged him so much until now. He couldn't trust, couldn't love properly, and because of that he'd never be able to have a new family. Tears pooled at the corners of his eyes. They burned because he refused to let them fall. He couldn't even give his friends that. He couldn't even weep for the loss of them. His mind was screaming at him not to allow it, convincing him of the hurt his friends would end up causing him, cursing them for the pain he felt now. No, his mind wasn't going to let him shed tears for them, and it took the opportunity to remind him of his inability to protect them even if he could let them in.

The smiling faces of his friends flashed in his mind, and he felt sadness at the thought of leaving them and shame at the pain he'd caused them. But when the face of Itachi swam into vision, he felt the familiar scraping of gut wrenching hate and pain. He'd thought his teeth would break from clenching his jaw so tight, and the rage washed away the sadness, and the faces of his friends disappeared behind the familiar spots of black and white that danced in his sight when the fury hit him. And then Sasuke was sure that to stay would be to invite another incident like today on the hospital roof with Naruto, and maybe next time it would be worse. There was just no room in his life for new loves or friends. His inner demon would not allow it. It would fester and grow until it pushed them aside, and Sasuke wanted to prevent that. They had pain of their own to deal with. Sasuke didn't want to cause them more.

As long as the darkness was alive and inside him, Sasuke had no future. This he now knew. And so he must leave to try to cleanse or kill that inner demon. Perhaps he'll survive to someday come back to his new family healed and whole, but whether or not he'd survive was irrelevant. Without this chance he had no future anyway. As risky as it was, this was his one shot to someday gain happiness… peace.

Orochimaru was a powerful dangerous man, and he'd committed some pretty dark deeds, but he had what Sasuke needed. He could give him power, train him, send him on missions that tested his training and strength… He could prepare him for Itachi, the seed to all the poison in Sasuke's soul. He didn't need to like Orochimaru to use him. He smiled wickedly at that.

'Sasuke forget about your revenge.' Oh how he wished his mind would let him. "Forgive me Kakahi-sensei, but I just can't." And with one last long look, Sasuke turned the picture of his friends face down, threw his pack over his shoulder, and left his home for the last time.

Next Chapter: For Love Of Sakura