summary: At the end of a day, close to the end of many lives, Itachi and Shisui go for a walk.
warnings: Excessive foreshadowing.
disclaimer: nope.
notes: title's from Macbeth. It made sense at the time.

pluck out my eyes

It was unseasonably cold for the time of year, and the leaves were dying prematurely.

Shisui and Itachi were walking home after a mission - successful in technicalities but devastating in more important things, though those would never be reported. Shisui looked sideways at Itachi and sighed. The movement of the shadows across Itachi's arms kept catching his attention; it made the cracks in his skin look like they were caked deep with dried blood. But he was clean, now; they were both clean.

They came upon a stream, and Shisui, grateful for a distraction, stopped. "Ah!" he said, kneeling by the water, "Let's rest for a moment, Itachi." Both of them had water in their packs, but Itachi said nothing as Shisui lowered his cupped hands below the surface of the stream. The water was biting cold, sending a shock up Shisui's arms to his heart. He drank a little, splashed his face with the rest, and ducked his hands back into the stream to rub them clean, again.

He sat back on his heels, scratched his neck, and stole another look at Itachi. He didn't look flustered or tired, but Shisui couldn't remember the last time he had. Itachi walked over to the stream, eyes lowered, and the setting sun cast an unusual pink glow on his skin. Shisui shook his head. It was as if there was something off about Itachi that he could only see in his periphery, and as soon as he looked directly, it was gone. It was probably just the aftermath of the mission hanging a distorting veil over his mind, but the thought didn't settle him. Itachi bent slowly and rested the tips of his fingers on the surface of the water, watching the ripples move around them. Shisui sighed and turned his face to the sky, where the trees splayed anorexic limbs in supplication.

When Itachi joined ANBU, Shisui hadn't felt any misgiving, just pride and a sort of anticipation. A ninja as brilliant as Itachi couldn't go many other places, and there was no sense in holding him back. Shisui had been sure he would flourish, as he always had. Itachi had succeeded at all his missions, had risen immediately to the top. But Shisui thought, in some way, part of Itachi was dying. Almost as though something in him were regressing or wilting as his body and skill continued to crystallize toward perfection. Maybe he was imagining it; maybe it had been there all along. He thought his suspicions weren't just born from jealousy that Itachi had surpassed him, but he hoped it was. He imagined sometimes that he'd tell Itachi everything he'd been thinking lately, that Itachi would laugh softly and call him stupid names. But Shisui believed that Itachi was actually changing, moving beyond him. Beyond Konoha. Beyond the clan. Shisui wasn't sure Itachi loved them anymore. He wasn't convinced he ever had.

Sometimes, when they fought side by side or walked together in silence, Shisui figured he must be going crazy, because Itachi was exactly the same as he always had been. He trusted him then, laughed with him, slept soundly. Sometimes, when Shisui sat with Itachi and there was nothing to say, he thought he might be with a stranger. Shisui didn't get much rest lately.

He remembered a day not long ago when they had been training, and Itachi, once again, had been flawless. He had jokingly told Itachi that training wasn't doing him any good, that if he kept up his current rate of progress he would hit his peak in two years, and where would he go from there? Itachi was a quiet person, didn't make unnecessary movement, but Shisui could feel him go still.

"You would help me, wouldn't you?" Itachi had asked. "You'd help me test my capacity." The words were soft, not quite a question, but not certain.

"With anything," Shisui had replied without thinking, without needing to. Itachi's expression hadn't perceptibly changed, but he nodded once. Neither had spoken of it since, but it stayed in the back of Shisui's head, tugging at his thoughts.

Everything was chilled tonight; even the earth beneath his fingers was cold. Shisui met Itachi's eyes and smiled. Itachi watched him for a moment, smiled back. Silence settled into the widening gap between them, pushed at the edges, seeped into his flesh. Shisui shivered and Itachi watched him with his dark, dark gaze. Above them, the low, red sun made Shisui think of pinwheel eyes, and Konoha seemed very far away.

"We should continue," he said.

Together they stood and walked home through the leaves that were already falling.