Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto TT if I did... well... one can always dream
Pairings: Implied NaruSasu. UCHIHACEST if you read between the lines.
Warnings: Character death. OoC-ness. unbeta-ed.
Summary: Itachi visits Konohagakure for the last time under circumstances he thought would never exist.
On this day the clouds cover the sun, casting all of Konoha in cool dimness despite it being noontime. Uchiha Itachi thinks the sun isn't bright, anyway, as if the ceremony taking place robbed it of its shine. He doesn't expect all the villagers to gather before the old Uchiha household, but he has been wrong before. Ninja and patrons alike flank the once deserted district of Konoha's dead clan, temporarily populating it like the times before the Tragedy.
Itachi came as soon as the rumors had reached him. He ditched Kisame and the Akatsuki to attend his brother's funeral. He hadn't known what spurred him to come as quickly as he did, and he still doesn't know. He figures half the villagers don't understand why they came, either. Perhaps they want to mourn the decease of their strongest clan. Perhaps they came on the order of the Rokudaime Hokage. Perhaps Sasuke had inadvertently touched their hearts and the least the villagers could do is respect his passing.
The line for the viewing is long, but Itachi waits – for hours, it seems – until it has shortened to at least fifty people. He stands patiently at the end and the heads immediately follow. He has been recognized already, but no one moves to stop him. His Akatsuki cloak is gone, leaving him in his black, mesh shirt and black shorts, standing out like an eye sore amidst the white. 'Forgive me, otouto. I had no time to find anything else.' Even at Sasuke funeral, Itachi can't do nothing right.
Kakashi notices Itachi first as he nears the casket. Their eyes meet and Itachi gives a rueful smile at Kakashi's expression. 'Are you that surprised, Kakashi-san? He was my brother, despite how I might have treated him.' The silver haired jounin's white mask is wet at the edges from where both eyes continue to shed tears. Itachi envies that Sharingan eye. His haven't felt tears since he had mastered them.
The sobs grow louder toward the front where all of Sasuke's closest friends have gathered. Itachi recognizes a few. He sees Gai and his protégé, and Gaara of the Desert. The pink haired kunoichi he remembers seeing a while ago bawls against the Hokage's robes. Naruto consoles her almost unconsciously, patting her shoulder as he stares out into space. As the person before Itachi mumbles a prayer, Itachi catches view of his brother and wants to retreat. However, his face betrays none of his inner turmoil.
He sees the ANBU approach him as he nears the casket, but a kind gesture from Kakashi stops their movement. Itachi doesn't appear to notice nor care, his attention focusing on the prone figure he hadn't seen in a whole year.
Sasuke looks peaceful in death, and Itachi thinks it's about time that he does. Sasuke's life would have defeated a lesser person, but he had struggled and found his purpose. He made friends and lovers and diverted from the path Itachi wanted him to travel – the one of vengeance and loneliness. Itachi hadn't seen Sasuke during the latter part of Orochimaru's war on Konoha. Had he known the last time he would see Sasuke was at the latter's funeral, he would have told him all the secrets buried in his heart a year ago, or perhaps have found a way to prevent his brother's death.
Itachi looks at Sasuke's ANBU uniform with indifference. Compared to the young man wearing it, it means nothing. There is the title of Captain stitched on the right side of his vest. Beneath it is the Uchiha crest, an added memento probably, marking the dying name. His hands are folded across his stomach, as pale and scarless as Itachi remembers them being, holding his headband that has a scratch from his fight with Naruto. Itachi wants that headband, but he doesn't have the heart to ask the village for it. What he doesn't resist is the urge to run his fingers across Sasuke's face. Before he touches the surface, however, a cool hand grabs his wrist. Itachi looks into furious blue eyes.
"Keep your filthy hands off of him," the Rokudaime hisses, his pupils turning into yellow slits. Itachi winces as his wrist is in the threat of snapping, but he doesn't have the will to stop the tan hand from doing so. He regards Naruto expressionlessly. He decides Naruto has more right over Sasuke than he does.
"Relax, Naruto-sama," Kakashi whispers, aware of the stares the two were receiving. "He is Sasuke's brother. Please don't deny him anything."
Of all people, Naruto must be the hardest to console. He still trembles as he holds into Itachi, and Itachi thinks his eyes must remind the Hokage of whom he had lost because Naruto suddenly looks away, his blue eyes watering once again. He mumbles and apology and lets go, but he doesn't move. Kakashi had left to his previous place beside Sakura. Itachi turns back to his brother.
His slender fingers make contact with Sasuke's face, and Itachi feels somewhat complete. They trace over every curve – cheekbones, eyes, nose, and lips. He smoothes over long, dark bangs and follows them to Sasuke's neck. Itachi unwittingly checks the pulse point. Nothing. 'I keep thinking you'll open your eyes and tell me about your dreams, otouto. I'm sorry I never listened before, but I'll listen now.' Itachi parts his lips to suck in a breath for speech, but no words come out. Even before Sasuke's dead body, Itachi can't say anything right.
The casket closes with a quiet snap, and Sasuke is no longer visible, only the Konoha and Uchiha crests engraved into the wood. Itachi's chest burns and a lump forms in his throat, and it feels like he'll die by his brother's side. Gaara, Kakashi, Naruto, Iruka, Sakura, a Hyuuga and Gai's student take a handle and carry it to the cremation site. The crowd moves with them, leaving Itachi the only one before his old home.
Itachi isn't good with conversation, but the only one he could ever speak to was his brother. A cold tombstone is his only audience.
"I said you and I needed to continue existing together," Itachi muttered into the night air. His brows furrowed in agony. "What will I do without you now?" He pauses. No answer, but Itachi knows it, anyway. "I thought hating me would make you become stronger, but it was finding someone important to you that gave you strength.
"I wanted to keep you for myself. You said you lived to kill me. Who will finish the job, otouto? I will not allow myself to die by anyone else." He smirks, but it looks half-hearted. "I suppose I'll stay here forever. I'll never see you again."
Sasuke is supposed to outlive him.
"There was a time when Sasuke breathed only for you."
Itachi lowers his eyes. "But he died for you."
Naruto approaches him. "I'm sorry… about earlier. Let's have some tea."
The last Uchiha heir regards Naruto blankly, and Naruto smiles benignly. Itachi can't bring himself to dislike the Rokudaime. Other than the blood running through his veins, Naruto is the last memoir he has of his brother.
"Tell me what I have missed."
Naruto nods. "I will," he whispers.
'I'm eleven years too late, but…'
"He once told me that his dreams were in the past. I think he meant that he dreamed of it, too."
"I…" Naruto bites his lip, tears threatening to spill. "I now know what it feels like."
'… you've always been everything to me.'
"Even though I was with him, I knew he belonged to someone else."
"Why are you telling me this?" Itachi asks angrily.
The Rokudaime looks at Sasuke's name engraved upon the tombstone. "At the end of all things, I thought you should know." Naruto walks away to the Uchiha Cemetery gate.
Itachi feels the ache in his chest again. Perhaps his brother has kept his promise. Sasuke is killing him the slowest, most agonizing way possible. Who would have thought that the pain of silence would be Itachi's downfall?
There are so many words he wants to say with no one but a cold tombstone to hear them.
TT. very sad... this came to me on the spur of the moment. "With You" by Linkin Park was my muse, I think. Listen to it if you get a chance!