Disclaimer: Characters not mine. Written as an attempt as an IC Itachi romance. The attempt failed. :)

To Know Yourself

It is not love that brings him to her.

Itachi knows it is not love, because love is a weakness and he is not weak. He would believe it is habit, but habit is another weakness he does not indulge in – so he is uncertain why he returns, time after time.

She looks at him, her curly brown hair framing a commonly pretty face, a contented smile in place as she offers him a plate of tonkatsu. After seven years, she still does not know that he dislikes the food. He eats it anyway, and helps with the washing up. He does not smile at her, but she takes his hand anyway.

"Will you be staying?" she asks, and he hesitates. Every time they are together, she asks the same question – will you be staying – and every time he gives the same answer.

"I have work."

She knows that he is a ninja, but does not know that he is an S-class missing-nin. To her, he is Miyako Daisuke, his hair is a short, choppy black and his eyes have a hint of grey in them. She has never seen what he really looks like, and has never heard his real past. She is the daughter of a baker, engaged to marry a man who ran a restaurant, who met a ninja who was running messages and cancelled her engagement to make a home for him to come to, never asking for marriage from him, never begging him to stay, not even when a child swelled inside of her.

"Will you come back?" she asks, and for once, he tells the truth.

"I should, but it is not certain."

The Akatsuki have declared war on Konoha and are marching on them to gain the last jinchuuriku; the Rokudaime, Uzumaki Naruto. Itachi has seen the Rokudaime's growth and knows that Uzumaki could match him in battle – and every cell in him glories in that revelation, aching for the epic battle that is sure to come. Itachi has not had a challenge in years, and he is restless for one.

She bites her lip, and looks over to where a tiny baby lies, hair plastered against his head as he holds onto his light blue blanket.

"Must you go?" she says, and her voice is trembling.

Itachi does not know why he says, "No."

When he hears that Uzumaki Naruto died, destroying the eight members of Akatsuki, and that Uchiha Itachi has slipped away into memories of a legend, his fist clenches. When he hears that Uchiha Sasuke died in a mysterious house fire on his return to Konoha, his fingernails make crimson marks on his palm. And when his wife turns to him, an unobtrusive wedding ring resting on her finger, the regret is soothed away, but he does not know why.

Perhaps there is some kind of feeling when he looks down at a toddler with his own dark eyes and her brown hair and wonders if he will gain the sharingan, but it is not love.

It will never be love.