Disclaimer: This is a purely non-profit story written for entertainment purposes only. The characters of Naruto do not belong to me.

Author's Notes: Really messed up piece. Itachi is very Orochimaru-esque, and I apologize if he's too OOC. This takes place after Naruto and Sasuke's big fight before Sasuke leaves the village. Slightly AU, of course, since this didn't actually happen. It's not meant to be ItaNaru, but I guess you could take it that way. I tortured someone other than Sasuke or Kakashi for a change!


"Look how much your dream has cost him."

They are caught under the watchful gaze of a troubled sky. Filtered light casts itself through a gridded window, marking the moon's luminance. Making monsters from thin air. Too startled to speak, too afraid and worried and exhausted, wide cerulean eyes stare vulnerably into an abyss of red.

"He left… because of you."

Persuasion drips like honeyed poison, every word as lethal as the truth. He can only stare at this phantom before him, as translucent as a dream. There is no intent in those guarded eyes, no blatant hostility. He could almost believe that it was all in his imagination.

Finally he finds his voice, but he cannot tear his eyes away. "N-no. He left because he wanted power." He doesn't understand this need to defend himself against someone with more to explain. Logic abandons him like the retreating tide.

The face that is so familiar to him, its skin as pale and its hair as dark – similar yet not the same – forms a sceptical expression. Gaunter than Sasuke, he thinks, as he stares fervently into crimson eyes. More deadly.

"Why would he want more power?"

Lying alone on a hospital bed, recuperating from near-fatal wounds, he cannot understand why he doesn't experience more fear. There is no one to hear him scream but the hallways, no way to protect himself but to smile. He would not want to face Uchiha Itachi on a regular day; he especially did not want him here now. A chill runs up his spine at the thought that he could die before even realising it.

Maybe that's why, he thinks languidly as Itachi shifts slightly on the bed – making it creak ominously. To scream to nothing is futile, and he's far too tired for that. His mind feels drugged. Even with a murderer at the base of his bed, he can barely keep his eyes open.

"Because he wants to kill you. He's trying to avenge his family."

His heart is hammering fiercely; he can feel the blood rushing to the pumping muscle in his chest, can feel the concentrated air burn on its way to his lungs.

"You're wrong," Itachi says softly, a hint of venom in his voice as he looks away briefly. "You see, Naruto, you pushed him away."

Suffocated by crimson, he can feel his anger rising. "No! I never did anything to-to – we were friends! I would never make him leave."

"Friends." Itachi's voice remains unconvinced. "He would've stayed, but then you just had to go and get stronger, didn't you? You knew how he felt about that."

"I—" The tubes that lead into his body encircle them like vultures, like demons. "I had to get stronger! I want to become Hokage!" As if embarrassed, the IV drips quietly into his arm.

Itachi does not give pause. "Ah yes. You need the strength to become Hokage. I wonder… how do you intend to protect an entire village when you can't even protect someone you say is your friend? Or perhaps, you only pretended to be his friend?"

The fog in his brain will not lift, and there is something pressing down hard on his heart. "He was my friend!" The pain in his chest will not subside. It's not that he's afraid, he realizes as Itachi moves to sit beside his broken right arm. The twang of guilt is now unmistakable.

As tenderly as a lover, Itachi leans in to whisper into Naruto's ear. "You claim to be his friend, yet you used the power of the Kyuubi against him. Not very sporting, is it?"

Haunting accusations. He replays their fight in his mind's eye, sees the fierce look of determination and pride and – you fool – guilt that burdens Sasuke, sees the apology he hadn't before. The patterns on the ceiling blur into nothing.

"He never treated you like a monster, but you betrayed him anyway. Sly, sly fox."

He clenches his left hand, and feels the needle shift in his skin. "No…"

"And after he was so loyal to you!" Itachi's breath tickles his ear. "Refusing to kill you to get the Mangekyo Sharingan. Do you know that if he had, there would be no need for him to seek out Orochimaru? If he had killed you, all the power in the world would have been at his disposal."

Itachi straightens and sits up again, and for a moment Naruto thinks it is over. The soft voice is further away, but now a pair of horrifying eyes has erased the world.

"But now he is at the mercy of a revolting seal that divests his body," Itachi practically spits out. "The Hidden Village of the Sound is not a pleasant place. It is full of vermin, all scrabbling pathetically at their attempts for life."

It is simply he and Itachi, floating in an unreal world of light. He cannot feel his body.

"Do you know what Orochimaru does to his… subordinates?"

And then there is screaming.

There is bile at the back of his throat, threatening to overtake him. Flashes of red all around. He hears the crack of bone, cartilage – lifeless vessels of departed souls. When finally there is silence, blissful, ringing silence, the throaty whisper of a madman takes over the only body left. Before he can gag, the scene has shifted.

An outline. He knows it is Sasuke – knows it, senses it – because his heart is still hammering. Before he can emit a sound, there is another body beside the Uchiha's – tall and slim, but powerful. When the man's hand touches Sasuke's cheek, Naruto feels the coldness of slim fingers on his face. He feels the clothes slide off his body, feels the goosebumps that trail over his skin as mutilated hands explore, feels Sasuke's shame. There's a burning in his groin as a stolen body molests him, a searing so blindingly painful and all he can hear is Orochimaru's laughter and Sasuke's moans and somewhere in the background someone is screaming …

… and he is in the white room with Itachi again, his throat as raw and dry as the desert. Tears fall silently from his eyes.

"No more," he manages to rasp out, his tone pleading. "Please…"

In the hospital, Itachi smiles and toys with a strand of blond hair; wipes away a stray tear that falls from blank blue eyes. In his world, he only makes a mock-disappointed face as Naruto sits crumpled on the ground.

"You see, Naruto? The fact of the matter is, Sasuke pushed his body to the limit by using Level Two of the curse seal to fight you, and now he has no other choice but to defect, lest he die before he completes his dream."

He kneels in front of Naruto, gingerly tilting his chin. "Weren't you the one that talked about believing in dreams? Right now, my unfortunate little brother could be…"

Blood smeared on the ancient trunks of foreign trees, barely distinguishable from the dark bark. There are footsteps in the mud. Naruto follows, sickened, already knowing what he will see. I won't scream. He tries to convince himself that it's all an illusion. I won't scream.


His throat is hoarse by the time they are back again. He has become a permanent fixture on the floor, a tacky decoration that has yet to be thrown out. The sardonic voice is ever present.

"Ah well." There is no remorse. "He's lucky if he dies before he ever makes it to the lair of that snake."

The white bleeds away. Naruto has never been so glad to see the moon.

There is a hand caressing his face. "I seem to have taken up enough of your time for today. You'll need to rest if you want to fulfill your big dream." Itachi is a pillar of death as he stands. "Hopefully your other friends won't meet such an… unfortunate fate."

"Wait!" he can't stop himself from calling out, and he feels the hot trail of tears down his cheeks. "About Sasuke… please…"

Itachi turns around slowly, the smile on his face more sinister than reassuring. "What about him?"

And he is lost. "Won't you help him?" In his desperation, this is not a foolish question. It's his fault that Sasuke is gone, and it's his job to get him back.

Itachi is pulling the covers to his chin and tucking him in. "I'll make you a deal, Naruto. Since you seem so worried about my little brother, I'll help you rescue him. You and I can go and bring him back to Konoha together, and I promise he'll be safe."

There is dead silence as Naruto listens raptly. "All I want from you in return is that you take a little trip with me afterwards."

"A trip?" He is drifting off to sleep. Itachi's voice skirts by his mind.

"That's right. It won't take long. I have some friends that are dying to meet you."


"I'll be back in a week to hear your decision."

Sky eyes have already closed in slumber as the incubus departs. Outside, the moon is ever watchful.

AN: Good, bad? Should I write a sequel? I'd love to hear your opinion.