://: Six

The story is almost over, all he has to do is turn the page. But his hand won't stop shaking, and he can't help but think, 'I don't want it to be over'.

It is a story that can only end in tears.

://: Five

He stalls as long as he can. There is something tearing deep inside of him, though, and the pain grows with every passing day, hour, minute. He hears screaming at night, sometimes, and it's then that the pain grows unbearable.

He whispers 'nii-san' in his sleep, but there's no one there to hear him.

://: Four

The page is almost turned when he pauses, and realizes that when the story ends, he has no future. There is no sequel filled with laughter and cleansing tears, and for a moment he considers not finishing the story – just leaving it to fade, fade into the sands of time.

But even with this stolen time, there wouldn't be enough years to mend the tears in the fabric of his soul.

://: Three

He turns the page and is not surprised with what he finds there. For, truly, what other end could this story have? He mutes his rage, his sadness, his fear, and his love; he doesn't need those to finish this. What he needs is blissful nothingness, a silence deep within himself. If he allowed himself to listen to even one emotion, he would have to listen to them all.

Emotions can't be sharpened; emotions can't slice through flesh; emotions can't protect him now.

://: Two

The pain is blinding, and he realizes in that moment that he can no longer activate Sharingan. Curious, he tries to tap into his chakra, and finds it dangerously low, leaking away in a steady, steady stream. And even though he knows this is how the story ends, even though he has finally finished, he is scared. He looks down and finds that his white clothing is now red, red, and he knows that the book is finally being closed.

Dying is more painful than he imagined it would be.

://: One

As his chakra reserves deplete and he slumps back against the rough rock of the mountain side, he turns his head just enough to take one last look at his fallen, defeated brother, and finds that he's no longer there. A thread of panic worms it's way through his failing body, and he tries to lurch away from the presence that he just then senses at his other side. He is so weak now, so weak, and he can't summon enough strength to move away; to break the hand that's pulling him closer; to cry.

He's amazed to find that Itachi still possesses Sharingan, and as Mangekyou swirls into life, he hears Itachi whisper, "I'm giving it all back".

In The End ://:

He lives a full life in just seconds, but they feel like years to him. Years of family spats, dinners, escapades. Years of growth, stubbed toes, scraped knees. Years of piggy-back rides, and 'Nii-san, tell me a story?'

Years…years without Orochimaru, Akatsuki, or hateful fear. Years with Naruto, years with Sakura, years with Kakashi.

Years with his mother, his father, his brother.

Wonderful years with a wife, and children.

And when all those years finally come to an end, and he slips out of the genjutsu, breathing labored and blood pooling around him to mix with Itachi's, he can't do anything but cry broken sobs as Itachi strokes his hair.

As the world dims, and Itachi's hand begins to slow, Sasuke whispers, "Nii-san, tell me a story". He can't feel the burn of his wounds anymore, nor the cold of the ground as it seeps into his skin; there is only the voice of his brother, beginning a tale of a powerful clan who's downfall was written in the books of fate. Sasuke's breath catches, and he struggles to stay awake, to stay here, because he wants to hear how the story ends even if he already knows, but he slips away, slowly away, into the waiting hands of those that loved him.

Itachi watches with dulled eyes, still stroking the blood-soaked hair of his brother, until his hand slows, falters, and then finally stops.

The book closes.