Disclaimer: They really aren't mine. Promise.
Notes: I had the mad urge to write Blind Itachi Crack, because I'd tried to figure Orochimaru out, failed, and then decided that as Itachi's the only other character I don't get but really want to, I'd write crack. I failed dramatically.
I'm not sure what happened, or where this spewed from, so any criticism would be madly appreciated, cheers.
Dedicated to Kiki (Hey-diddle-diddle),if she wants it, because her Blind!Itachi drabble was unbelievable, and owns me like no other.
Itachi will be killed by his brother. It's part of the master plan, a plan that started when Itachi joined the ANBU, murdered his clan, started his brother on the only path he could've taken…
Itachi would be happy with quitting the Akatsuki, holing himself up in a little village somewhere with a white pimp cane and bottle-base glasses, waiting for the day that Sasuke turns up and slits his brother's treacherous throat in his sleep – except they're brothers, after all, and Sasuke has his own plan; one that involves clawing at 'power' and re-establishing the Clan and finally defeating his Unstoppable Psychotic Brother. It's a loving sort of accordance to this plan that keeps Itachi bound to the Akatsuki – the Elders in their infinite wisdom will throw around words like Obito and Shisui and Mangekyou but they're all wrong. The Akatsuki are the most dangerous force he could find, and Itachi knew just how that would ignite his brother's rage.
He doesn't seem to remember the Uchiha Itachi that refused to follow orders – that defied their own father in an effort to make him kinder, that defied the Uchiha itself to become an ANBU legend, that even as a child defied the Logic of the Clan in order to activate level after level of the infallible Sharingan. Sasuke is a genius of denial, and in a way, it makes it easier.
ANBU training is the hardest thing Itachi has ever had to face in all his years as a ninja.
To become an ANBU a shinobi must excel in all levels of combat – ninjutsu, genjutsu, taijutsu – and bring something special, effortless, elegant, to establish him as a confident killer, instead of just another excellent ninja. The Hidden Leaf is bustling with excellent ninja. The ANBU look for the elite.
At eleven years old, after three years on the field, Itachi wants this more than anything else – he would be the youngest ANBU operative ever, because he is now a month younger than Hatake Kakashi was when he first, officially, joined the dark troops. So he watches through a red-swatched haze as three ANBU operatives spin elegantly through a series of movements, wondering which one would be best for him to imitate. The thinnest one stumbles a little through the trickier steps – a fumbling hop that sticks out a mile compared to the beautiful grace of the other two. Itachi decides that he is probably the greenest of the demonstrating ANBU, and because Itachi doesn't want his trick to seem too obvious, decides to copy him.
The Sharingan spins a little as he focuses on everything at once, decides how to balance the low expectations the examiners have of Itachi with the high expectations they have of their recruits. Itachi wouldn't be able to emulate such skilful technique without the Sharingan, but so long as he has the Sharingan, Itachi doesn't see why he should have to train to pull of what he could just copy. Some people have called him a cheater, called him a thief; Itachi and his clan call it efficiency and power.
At the most subtle signal from their Commander, the ANBU operatives pause in their violent dance, the recruits in their pure white 'practise' masks trembling a little under the strain of his glare. At least, Itachi sees them trembling, their chakra quivers a little as the hairs stand up through gooseflesh and perspiration. Nothing escapes the unprejudiced eye of the Sharingan, Itachi has been taught that since birth. The Commander touches a hand to the thin ANBU's arm, whispering something Itachi can't pick up without seeing the speaker's lips and the ANBU inclines his head oddly, a gesture Itachi has seen other ANBU do before.
The Commander invites the recruits to demonstrate what they have seen, and so Itachi moves with the other recruits to re-enact the difficult movements. He watches idly as half the recruits stumble through the technique, making it up as they go along when they don't know what move comes next. One recruit moves off from the group a little, performing her own series of vicious movements, and it surprises Itachi that she is the one the ANBU watch more carefully.
Uchiha Itachi's performance is impeccable; he so accurately imitates the general movements of the elite shinobi that several of the recruits stop to watch him jealously. When the thin ANBU asks him to stop – his grin obvious even through the porcelain hound mask – Itachi obeys dutifully, smothering his excitement with the usual Uchiha stolidity. Itachi is going to become Konoha's youngest ANBU operative, and his name will be whispered in doorways in distant lands, by people with hushed voices and wild eyes.
The Commander asks the other shinobi to give Itachi some space, and invites the boy to start again, watching with a little awe at such an accurate reconstruction of what probably took the other ANBU weeks to perfect. He looks up through a particularly difficult move – or it would've been, had it not been one the thin ANBU was more comfortable with – and stops in shock when he sees a bright red stolen eye perusing his movements. The rest of the thin ANBU's face is hidden by the dark cloak and lopsided porcelain mask, tugged over just enough to expose a line of black fabric and a deep, ugly scar.
Itachi glares up at Hatake Kakashi, knowing that those lazily spinning wheels are teaching the Copy Ninja volumes about controlling the body's responses, and minimising chakra levels. Kakashi is using Itachi to better himself, and Itachi is reminded of his childhood habit of peeking into Shisui's window, watching him teach a Hatake the very secrets of the Sharingan. The secrets of cousin Obito's Sharingan. He is reminded of ten minutes ago, when he didn't know it was Kakashi he was choosing to imitate.
"You tricked me." Itachi decides there and then that he hates Hatake Kakashi. He is a thief.
"You allowed yourself to be tricked." Hatake Kakashi doesn't seem to really care. "This is why we encourage our recruits to know the basis of all ninja skills without aid of trickery, jutsu, or bloodline limit. The Sharingan isn't infallible, Itachi-kun; especially if it's your only skill."
Itachi imagines that his face burning; his eyes are burning, and spots of red and white and fury line his vision for reasons he can't quite understand. It's a fury wrapped up in half snatched memories of cousin Obito, of the truths his father has told him. The Sharingan might be fallible for Kakashi, but the Sharingan was never his. Itachi is going to push the boundaries of his skill to levels the world has never seen. Itachi is going to be perfect.
The Commander seems to agree with the bloodline thief, and Itachi doesn't make it into the ANBU that year. Sixteen months later – after Hatake Kakashi has quit the force for reasons Itachi can't find out no matter how much he pries – Itachi tries again, and becomes the second youngest ANBU recruit Konoha's ever had. Another goal he's failed at, but after three months he becomes the commander of his own ANBU team – and that's a record even the mighty student of the Fourth can't beat.
It never occurs to Itachi that he didn't want to.
When Sasuke is first born, Itachi gets in the way.
He leans over the cradle when he shouldn't, and stuffs sweet tasting rice in the infant's mouth when he cries. Itachi tries to play Tag with Sasuke, but despite an abnormal ability to survive, his brother cannot yet run – this Itachi finds out the hard way; through billowing smoke and piercing cries and angry words from his mother that chill him to the bone.
After a while Itachi gets bored of watching Sasuke grow up, and begins to stay with his cousin, Shisui, as much as he can. Shisui is older than Itachi by many years; already a shinobi, already a teenager. Shisui already has skill, and ambition, and sex, and Itachi learns from Shisui that these are things to be coveted and attained, and he's grateful that his cousin is kind enough to share these secrets with Itachi.
It's Shisui that first sees Itachi's potential for what it is, and before long he is training his young cousin, pushing him this way and that, finding out where – even if – Itachi will break.
Itachi takes everything Shisui will give freely, and spends his days learning how to fight and to win. He activates his Sharingan for the second time in Shisui's living room, after a crappy Gennin mission that nearly killed his team-mates, and from there on out Itachi is treated as if he is a grown up, and Shisui insists that he is a friend.
The fact that he respects Itachi's skill is sort of bliss that overwhelms the boy.
While Itachi practises, Shisui sits and watches – meditating on the chakra points and silently forming seals that Itachi cannot follow, even with those twin pin wheels burning in his head. At lunch time, Shisui tells Itachi stories as he teaches him to cook; about nobility and honour, the samurai of old and the tradtions of the first shinobi. He tells Itachi of Konoha's founding, and how it was designed as an equal society, where people were people and ninja were responsible for protecting life, not commanding it.
Shisui is as eloquent as anything Itachi has ever known, and he listens to his cousin for hours, while he is led through smooth motions and meditations and hand seals and tricks to increase memory and speed. He is taught about the history of their family, and tries hard to understand what Shisui is trying to say as he lovingly explains the blindness of the Uchiha Clan.
Shisui never says anything outright. His subtlety is beautiful, but confusing to Itachi – he is often punished with a finger to the forehead, and at first finds it annoying, but later learns to crave the unusual contact. It's like a secret handshake – one that identifies Itachi as the child, and Shisui as the grown up – one that has no room for rank or skill or death or expectation. It's a simple feeling.
One day, Itachi hopes that Sasuke will look to him as he does to Shisui; but doesn't, all the same. Itachi doesn't want to be the older brother, he doesn't want to finish learning and improving and becoming majestic. He wants to be perfect, but he doesn't mind how long it takes.
Shisui's father died a while ago, and so Shisui lives alone. Itachi only makes the mistake of asking where his favourite cousin's mother is once, at a dinner party; his innocent question making their adult cousin Tekka laugh and scoff. Tekka tells Itachi not to worry, because dutiful Uchiha women stay within the Clan's compound, no matter what, but there's something in his tone that leaves Itachi ill at ease.
Itachi's mother flushes as she fusses with Sasuke's hair, muttering about his untameable cowlick, and how Itachi's had grown out long before the age of six. Fugaku merely glared until the conversation stilled, but Itachi could see Shisui's grip on his chopsticks – tense and brittle and, when Itachi blinked the world back into crimson focus, shaking slightly with the strain of their cousin's cruel and meaningless words.
It takes many years before Itachi realises that maybe – maybe – there was some scandal there, but he's too young and too infatuated and too impressed with Shisui to wonder about the truth behind the words. The Uchiha pride themselves on their clear-sightedness, but many of them are blind.
"Kisame, throw me that board, would you?" Itachi gestures vaguely towards the piece of thick, oiled wood they have designated as the 'cooking board,' and listens to Kisame's rustling movements. It hasn't been good between them for a while – Kisame knows that something is wrong, fundamentally so, with his Fire Country team-mate, and Itachi has no desire to enlighten the other man.
It's degrading, but inevitable – this half-self that Itachi has become. There's no grand epiphany, and it's a shame. It lacks weight, this way. Itachi accepts that perhaps he has been blind for many years, accepts that maybe he relied so much on his inheritance that he destroyed himself, just like Hatake Kakashi – in a roundabout, unintentional way – warned him about.
Itachi should've trained his senses better – should've been able to read a situation based on his smell or hearing or taste or touch. Now all Itachi can do is hope he has retrained himself enough to seem invincible, because all it would take to kill him now is a plan. He can't survive on the Sharingan's sight alone - his body will not take it - so Itachi has to hope that Sasuke's getting closer to his goal; because if his brother waits much longer he's probably going to miss his best chance to kill the man that killed his family.
Kisame coughs a little, pulling Itachi from his dark thoughts, and he's a whole lot closer than Itachi realised. Immediately, Itachi knows what happened, and doesn't bother to activate the Sharingan – his only source of light in this endless, spinning dark - before growling; "I said to throw it."
Kisame tosses it lightly, allowing Itachi and his extensive training to catch it, awkwardly, by reflex alone. He spreads the food he has spent the last long minutes chopping carefully across the board, fourth finger trailing imperceptibly across the edge of the board, judging distance the ANBU way. He brings it down onto the fire arrogantly, judging it's distance from the flames of their campfire by the hot pressure against his pale skin, perfectly preventing himself from burning his sleeves., and Kisame huffs and whimpers from a rush of air away.
In the end, Itachi decides, reflecting on the Master Plan in all its variations - across two brothers, two cousins and several years – it doesn't matter whether Itachi is blind or not. As long as Sasuke looks up to Itachi, Itachi must seem to see. It's the only way it can end.