Author's Note: A chrysalis, in the scientific sense, is "the enclosing case or covering of a pupa." The other meaning is: "A sheltered state or stage of being or growth." This story plays on both meanings.


Sasuke watches the years go by, and counts the breaths that his brother must be taking. It's almost like there are two people living inside Sasuke--Itachi, and Sasuke. There are two heartbeats that Sasuke hears, and each day, he wakes up praying that he'll get a chance to end one. It's only a split-second later that he wonders if killing one heartbeat won't kill the other as well.

As the days go by, Sasuke realizes that there is less of Sasuke and more of Itachi, and wonders, with the occasional humor that passes through his life, if he should just change his name and get it over with.

But there is something innately wrong about becoming Itachi in name, Sasuke thinks, but can't help but noticing that he is Itachi, down to the very core. With each passing second, the line between Itachi and himself blurs, and now, Sasuke can't figure out where Itachi begins and where Sasuke ends. They are one and the same, and he can't get himself to be worried about all this. Puberty, he thinks. He's just growing out and around himself, and in each direction, there's a wall called Itachi that's closing in on him, leaving him less and less air to breathe. Puberty in a crammed box. That's what this is.

He can't help--just can't help--wondering if that's why Itachi did not kill him. To watch him grow into another Itachi, end the miserable existence that all Uchihas are destined to live.

When Sasuke fights Kakashi, he focuses entirely at the sharingan eye of his teacher and wills himself to paint the rest of the picture for himself. Two and a half inches away, in his mind, another sharingan eye comes into focus, and this is the person that Sasuke fights again. He figures that by practicing like this, he'll be able to look in Itachi's eyes when he kills him.

Now and then, Sasuke catches himself mouthing a word that is heavy, faded, and bitter like bile in his mouth. He tries to remember what that word is, but forgets each time. It lingers, though, that taste, and he can't help--just can't help--wondering what kind of word it is that tries to make its way up from his gut and not down from his brain.

Sasuke is fifteen going on sixteen, and he feels like he's a pupa, cocooned in this chrysalis that Itachi has so meticulously constructed with the blood of his own kin.

Sasuke is sixteen going on seventeen, and even now, he wakes up mouthing a word that starts at his stomach and wisps away where his vocal box starts. All he can do is grunt and listen to the echoing heartbeats and rattling breaths in his ribcage.

Sasuke is seventeen going on eighteen, and when he meets his brother's eyes across a field of soft grass and under the crisp, white-dotted, blue gaze of the morning sky, the heartbeats stop beating and the breaths stop rattling, and all he can hear is the dull-pitched sound of silence.

Sasuke is seventeen going on eighteen when the word starts in his stomach, crawls up through his torso, and comes out of his mouth as clear as the sun that's shining inky-blue on Itachi's hair.


End of Chrysalis

I appreciate any comments you have. Hope you liked this. Oh, and the ages at the end have nothing to do with the series, I don't think...just random numbers I picked.