A/N: This is the final chapter. I've never finished a fic this long before (ten chapters!), and since I've been on here since 2002, this is pretty exciting and kinda sad for me at the same time.
Thank you all so, so much for your reviews, faves, alerts, c2s, and everything else! And please, if you're ever going to review this, I'd love it if you'd review the final chapter. It'd mean a ton to me if this fic could break 200 reviews. That way, I could be like Deidara and go out with a bang, haha.
When I wrote this chapter, Hebi hadn't even formed yet, so you can guess that there will be a few inconsistencies in timelines. I hope you enjoy this anyway!
X. Sine Phobia
"Itachi? Hey! Nii-san! Guess what?"
"Moron, get back here!" Deidara shouted, but Tobi had already run out of his reach and was heading towards Itachi.
They were in a fairly large village near the Akatsuki base, large enough for a half-decent nightlife to form. Just after midnight, there were enough buildings open and lamps lit for them to see each other easily. None of the late-night pedestrians and partygoers approached the four Akatsuki members; they all recognized the coats in this place and didn't dare to approach them. This was a civilian village.
"Does it have to do with a new technique?" Itachi asked with a sigh, but half-smiled. Tobi did this every time they met. Itachi and Kisame had just gotten back from a mission, and Itachi hadn't seen Tobi in over a month. He would probably be talking for hours.
"Not even close!" Tobi stopped in front of Itachi and Kisame, bouncing on his feet with excitement. His hat almost fell off and he reached up with one hand to keep it on. Kisame chuckled and took a couple of steps back, both to allow Itachi and Tobi to have room to talk and to get a better view of the show. "Guess again!"
"You remembered something new?"
"Nope, try again."
"You said something smart, un?" Deidara suggested with a smirk, moving to stand beside Kisame.
"No way. You – hey!" Tobi turned towards Deidara and huffily crossed his arms. "That was mean!"
"We're Akatsuki, un. Mean is part of the job description."
"I know, but I'm your partner, Deidara-senpai…" Tobi sounded quite wounded.
Itachi sighed once more, and said, "I give up, Tobi. What happened?"
Tobi was quickly back to his usual cheerful self. "Okay, so, our mission was to track down Orochimaru's base, right? We didn't exactly find it, but we ran into all the Sound nin while they were changing locations."
"It's a miracle we found them at all," Deidara said. "It's an even bigger miracle we survived, un. Sound nin are tough and Tobi was worthless."
Before Tobi could start arguing with Deidara again, Itachi said, "Go on."
"Okay, nii-san!" Tobi said. "Anyway, you'll never guess who we ran into!"
"Orochimaru?" Itachi offered.
"No! Wait, yes," Tobi admitted. "But who else?"
"C'mon, I'll give you a hint!" Tobi said. "He has—"
"It was your brother, all right?" Deidara said. "That Sasuke kid, un. Black hair, skin like a corpse, and the weird red spinning eyes. There. Happy?"
"You're heartless!" Tobi whined.
"You're brainless, un," Deidara replied smugly.
Itachi looked sharply at Tobi. "You saw Sasuke? With Orochimaru?"
"Yup!" Tobi said, performing another magnificent mood swing from dejected to chipper.
"Hmm." Apparently, Orochimaru was still after the Sharingan. Itachi hoped that Sasuke was bright enough to get away before it was too late. "How was he?"
"He didn't seem very happy," Tobi said.
"He's crazy, un," Deidara added.
Kisame grinned. "I could have told you that."
"I know! What is it with Uchiha, un?" Deidara asked Kisame. "Every brat they spit out is either insane or retarded!"
"Hey, Itachi's not that stupid," Kisame said, smirking at his partner. Itachi ignored the comment.
"Itachi is on the insane end," Deidara said. "Do you know what he did to his own family?"
"So? That's not so bad. Do you know what it takes for a Mist nin to graduate the academy?" Kisame asked.
"No. Why? Isn't it doing a rain dance or something, un?"
"That's the Rain nin," Kisame said. His grin spread until it looked absolutely predatory. "C'mon, let's get a drink. I want to take my time with the explanation."
Itachi didn't envy Deidara. Within his first week with the Akatsuki, he had heard about the kid Kisame had killed in excruciating detail. Itachi had finally stumbled out of the tent to find some fresh air and a cold stream to dunk his head in when Kisame had started to describe what the kid's bones tasted like.
"So," Itachi said. "Sasuke wasn't happy. What else did you notice?"
"He's really strong," Tobi said. "And he's got a really cool jutsu he called chidori. I tried to memorize it, but it's hard to use. Want me to show you, nii-san?"
"Perhaps later," Itachi said. There were too many civilians nearby and he didn't want to attract attention.
"Okay, later," Tobi said. "Oh, and Sasuke saw that Deidara and me were in Akatsuki and he asked us to tell you something. He said that you'd better be training hard because he's coming for you. And then he called you…" Tobi hesitated. "Um, I don't want to say what he said. Tobi is too good for those words. It's the kind of stuff Hidan says, without the religion."
Itachi had to chuckle at that. Sasuke had changed. "That's all right, Tobi."
That answered a few of Itachi's questions. He knew how Sasuke was doing, he knew where Sasuke was living, and he knew that there was no chance now that Sasuke would forgive him. Tobi was lucky that Sasuke hadn't realized he was an Uchiha.
"Let's go train," Itachi said. "You can show me how to do chidori."
"Okay, nii-san," Tobi said, and fell into step beside Itachi as they headed out of the village. Itachi smiled to himself when Tobi started talking about absolute nonsense as they walked.
"Hey, have you ever heard of Kabuto? He was there when we found Orochimaru," Tobi was saying. "He wears these glasses, but they're really loose. You know, I don't think he needs them, because they fell off a couple of times. Hey, Itachi, do you know if there are people who wear glasses when they don't need them? Anyway, he kept following Orochimaru around. Orochimaru's got really weird eyes. Are they kekkei genkai, too? Zetsu-san said Orochimaru used to be in the Akatsuki, but he doesn't look like it…"
It was wonderful to have a brother again.
That night, Itachi had a dream.
It started the same as all his other dreams. He was trapped outside himself, watching as he slaughtered his clan, and only stopping to spare Sasuke. For the first time, the dream continued even after Sasuke had run away, crying in fear.
Itachi turned around, surveying the results of his massacre, and discovered a new person in his dream. Standing in the middle of the street was Uchiha Obito, gazing around himself, and crying. Itachi walked towards him, weapon lowered, and as he drew closer, he dropped his sword all together.
The noise startled Obito and he looked up. "I j-just had something in my eye," he said quickly, shoving his goggles onto his forehead. Itachi remained silent as Obito wiped his tearstained eyes.
When Obito was finished, he repositioned his goggles and looked around, at all that was left of the Uchiha clan. "It looks like I got here too late," he said.
Itachi said nothing for a long time. Finally, he said, "It seems so."
Obito sighed shakily. "I guess there's no reason we should stay here." He reached out, took Itachi's hand, and smiled. "Let's rebuild it together, nii-san."
Itachi slowly nodded. "All right," he said softly. "Together."
The two Uchiha walked out of the ruins of their clan to start anew.
For the first time in Itachi's memory, he did not wake up in the middle of the night, cold and terrified. He woke up at dawn, with the red morning sun shining warmth onto his face. Itachi stood and watched the sunrise for a long time, and then went to find his brother.