It had been snowing the day Uchiha Sasuke made his first kill. The first time (but certainly not the last) another's blood had coated his hands, slick and warm and so very red.

You can keep a secret, can't you Sasuke?


Stain


The house was silent, save the sound of warm water gushing from the tap onto the plain, white washcloth Itachi held beneath the flow. Steam rose in nearly invisible ribbons, leaving foggy blotches on mirror to obscure the reflection. Across the small bathroom, the six-and-a-half year old Sasuke sat unmoving on the counter. His legs didn't swing playfully as they usually did and his shoulders sagged to the front as he stared at his hands, unrelenting.

"Here."

Itachi was in front of him, suddenly, (or had he been there a while already? – Sasuke didn't know,) and reached his own hands carefully for Sasuke's dirty ones. The blood had begun to dry on his pale skin, turning a dark, rust-red that glistened unremittingly in the light as if it were still wet. It was on his shirt too, dark stains on his sleeves and stomach and the bright red ones on the towel Itachi had given him to keep it from getting anywhere else. It had gotten onto the floor anyways, though, little round pools near Itachi's feet.

Even as his brother began wiping it away with soft, deft strokes, ("Is it too hot? Sasuke?"), the boy couldn't stop staring.

"I… I didn't mean to…," he said quietly.

Itachi continued softly rubbing Sasuke palm, the crusted red peeling off like a scab. "I know."

And that was the truth. It was just an accident, just a cruel pass of fate that happened to fall on him. He hadn't meant to hit the bird. He wanted to hit the tree, the tallest one in their yard that was already battered and scars from Itachi's first uses of it. (Sometimes, Sasuke would run his fingertips along the many cuts and wonder).

The first shuriken he threw hit a little to the left of his target. The second a little to the right. The third lodged itself in the gut of a bird that had flown down from its perch from a branch higher up. A twitch ran through the bird's entire body, and a loud, uncontrolled squawk escaped from its throat as it fell to the base of the tree. It writhed (Sasuke counted – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 seconds) before settling into the ankle-deep layer of snow. Still.

At first, Sasuke thought to himself that it was just injured; it couldn't possibly be dead.

But as he drew nearer, he was able to see the sticky red substance coating the feathers and the guts that had spilled out of the large rip in its front; intestines, stomach, were those lungs? The smell was awful.

It was dead.

Confusion shone in his eyes for a second, his hands jerking forwards to touch it. He rolled it over, shook it a little, and still, it did not move. No heartbeat. No life.

"Itachi!"

At the time, his brother had been in his room reading. The window next to his desk gave him a clear view of the backyard, though the pane of glass had been covered in spirals of frost.

In the bathroom, Sasuke whimpered slightly.

"Are you… going to tell Mom and Dad?"

Itachi shook his head. "Of course not."

"Promise." Sasuke said, looking all-too-distressed.

Itachi gave a quiet smile, resting a hand on each of Sasuke's shoulders and leaning forwards a little. "I promise… okay?"

His little brother nodded, exhaling softly, and Itachi held the not-quite-embrace for a second longer (close).

"You need to take your shirt off so I can get the blood out before our parents come home, alright?"

Another nod, and Sasuke was wrestling to get his shirt up and over his head (get the stain away). The towel slid from his lap and onto the floor, but neither bent to pick it up.

"Our secret, right?" Itachi asked as Sasuke handed him the shirt, shivering a little as skin touched against skin with a touch slow, deliberate…

"Our secret."


How many secrets, how many promises, how many memories did they (and only they) have? Sasuke could hardly count. Some came and went as they pleased, reappearing in his mind on warm, sticky mornings and in barely tangible moments; little pieces of life that took him back, happily.

Some, though, were fond of dropping in uninvited when he was desperately trying to get to sleep. They manifested his body, forcing him to sit through certain events again, and again, and again, and again until he never every inch of it by heart. Though perhaps his mind had twisted them, far from the truth, to suit his secret likings and fantasies and that sort of thing. Though, perhaps not.

It did not change the fact that they were there. And no matter how hard he tried to force himself to forget, he could never really let go.

Little brothers are the best at keeping secrets…

And he plunged –


"Sasuke… what are you doing up…so late?"

A soft drip as blood fell from his brother's third fingers and onto the floor.

"I was waiting for you, Nii-san…"

The sound choked.

Taking a closer look, Sasuke could see more blood on his brother's front, a blotch on his thigh and a large smudge on his face. So red – even in the little light they had and amongst the shadows, he could see it. Panic rose up in him, working from confusion and fear, and a strong concern.

But quicker than Sasuke could count, his brother moved to kneel in front of him, one hand clamped over his brother's mouth as his vocal chords attempted to vibrate with what would have been screams. There was blood, so much red red red, and he could taste it on his brother fingers as they pressed tightly against his lips.

"Shhh… Sasuke…" Itachi smiled, leaning in a little closer. Light glinted against his eyes, so horribly vivid, swirling and almost aglow. He smelled of death.

"Tell me…," he whispered, as if he had discovered something miraculous and could hardly keep it inside of him, "you can keep a secret, can't you?"


The next day, Uchiha Shisui was reported missing.

And Sasuke was very pleased – and yet very not at all – with himself for not saying a word about it.


Sasuke smiled at the ceiling, eyelids begging for sleep (solace and closure).

"Our little secret, Nii-san…"

- end -