Summary: Itachi's senses haven't worked for him for a while. Sasuke is no longer a child, and it leaves him empty. [ItaSasu Uchihacest. Kind of bloody.
Warnings: ... Rated M for a reason. More violent than I usually write. O.o; Umn... Bloodplay, masochism, not-quite-sex?
Disclaimer: Damn. I still don't own anything.
Spellcheck of the Day: Chidori- cheddar
There is only one sense that works for him anymore.
The rest of them have been twisted, swallowed up by his occupation, his profession. His sight- a weapon, one which is slowly deteriorating itself, like a knife which loses its edge as it is used. His hearing- tuned too fine to be used for anything mundane. He can detect an enemy step from 30 yards away. He can determine said enemy's step from his partner's. He will start awake at the slightest creak, smallest squeak. But sometimes he merely wishes that he could stay asleep through these- stay blissfully unaware all night through; something that has not happened since he joined Akatsuki. No, before that. Since he joined ANBU.
His sense of smell has been ruined for longer than he can say- he is not an Inuzuka or Hatake, and without the training, the chakra enhancement, there is no way to keep the scent of blood from being a permanent taint. It is not all he can smell, but sometimes it seems pretty close. His sense of taste is similarly obscured.
Touch is all he has left, and he's not too sure that this has not been taken from him as well. Satin, velvet, cotton, metal, liquid- he can feel it, but too often it is tacky, damp, rough, stained, rusty, dyed red with blood. It has covered his body more times than he can count; victims cannot be counted on to bleed quietly, no. They shout, move, struggle, try to block the flow as it spurts and gurgles and flows, and only very rarely can Itachi escape it, even good as he is.
Broken, twisted as his senses may be, they still work very well for one thing- the chakra may be hidden, the footsteps soundless, the presence cloaked, but Itachi knows he is there. How can he not? It is, after all, not sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste that allows him to 'see' this prowler. It is the simple knowledge that only comes when you have known somebody in a way that nobody else has.
And if anyone knows Sasuke that special, certain way, it is Itachi. His little brother, so innocent, pure, and blinding in his faith that his world was good and his family was worth living for, worth working for. Still laboring under that faith, but no longer blinding- Itachi had taken the metallic red that swaths his world and tossed it into Sasuke's eyes.
It was the action of a rebellious child, perhaps, to lose control like that, but it had felt so very wonderful... to be free, finally free, of the family who only coveted his ability.
Now the one, the only one, who had ever liked him (loved him) for himself, is here drenched in the very same smell, taste, feel that Itachi has always known.
Sasuke knows that his power is not equal to Itachi's. It probably never will be. He has accepted this. But he cannot bear not to try, to have all that effort result in nothing. There is too much he has given up to not try. Too much pain, both his own and what he caused others, too much flurry and furor over him, too much fuss and fury, for him to not try.
Itachi is laying by the side of a small fire, mostly embers by now, propped up against a tree and looking unbearably perfect even in that ungainly pose. His features appear to be relaxed in sleep, and it is a different Itachi that sleeps, different from the one who wakes, who kills. Sasuke is not fooled. There are too many nights remembered of Itachi waking up immediately when Sasuke, five or six, thinking he was being oh-so-clever and quiet, managed to make it in the door to his room or up to the hill where he was sleeping.
It is not hopelessness, this feeling that washes over him. More a kind of resignation, of acceptance. He walks to his death, maybe. Perhaps not. Itachi may want nothing to do with someone of such ineptitude.
Sasuke immediately wants to hit himself for such thoughts, for falling into his old mindset, that of a child overshadowed by their brother. But it is so easy, for he doesn't know what to think anymore- he is no longer the painfully adoring child or the furious, pained preteen he had been, and right now he has nothing. He is simply doing for the sake of doing, because he must. And that is what drives him forward for now- not the bloodlust, the killing intent he would have had years previously.
Perhaps it will be what is necessary to defeat Itachi- more likely, though, it will mean his defeat, his downfall. Sasuke doesn't know what Itachi's purpose is, but he knows that it drives him just as much as Sasuke's vengeance has driven him. And to match his current failure against Itachi's drive... is almost meaningless. A paltry gesture.
He does it anyway. He creeps up to the trees surrounding the little campsite, stands for a moment observing the space. It would be so easy, at this point, to throw a shower of shuriken, to watch them each thunk into the sleeping body, to see the blood spray from each wound.
And why not? He does it.
There is no blood, no startle awake- the clone vanishes with the puff of smoke and the small pop peculiar to its race. Sasuke feels his blood run cold, almost as it did that night. Itachi is so impossibly far ahead of him. Even when is seems that Sasuke has him right within his grasp, it turns out that Itachi has foreseen his actions and has, with his omnipotence that Sasuke has suspected since the age of three, beaten him.
Sasuke whirls about, sharingan on, not bothering to hide his chakra anymore. Itachi knows he is here, somehow, the way he always knows. Sasuke does not know where Itachi is. His desire to find out distinctly lacks the motivation of a ninja; he beats down the child inside that wants to cry out to his big brother, and wonders where the 12-year-old who ran screaming and chidori blazing at a man he hated went.
Their battle is over before it has begun. Itachi's voice does not ring out, as many shinobi's do (trained as they are to project over the clamor of a battlefield). It is soft and cold and calm, so calm, as though nothing on earth can ruffle it; a glacier that no one can melt.
"You have no intent, Sasuke-kun."
That name is unfamiliar in that voice, and it hurts; the child inside cries out in pain and the other one, the one that hates, burns and roars against this denial of their relationship, which seems to him in turn a denial of what Itachi's done. Despite these voices still strong in him, these personalities in his head, Sasuke is empty. He does not know what he is doing- indeed, as Itachi says, he has no intent.
"Aniki," he calls without thinking. "Where are you?" His voice is lost, pathetic. He hates himself for it. It is a familiar feeling- one he has been acquainted with since leaving Konoha, having Naruto throw himself after him with such desperation, offering Sasuke the one thing he had never had, yet could not accept. Simple friendship, unmerited, unquestioned. He hated both Naruto for offering it and himself for refusing it.
Itachi appears before him as though a genjutsu of some sort has been lifted. For all Sasuke knows, one has- this is Itachi they are talking about, and Itachi is a genius.
Itachi is indeed different waking; his eyes are shards of bloodied ice, sharingan fixed on Sasuke, face set and indifferent and careless. Itachi's expression cannot be read, for it doesn't change. Sasuke remembers a time when it was not so, but it was oh so long ago, and the memories are hazy and embellished; those of a child. In sleep, Itachi is certainly no angel, but at least there is some measure of relaxation, of humanity.
There is none of that when Itachi moves closer to him, nearly imperceptibly. Itachi seems to glide rather than walk like mortal beings, but Sasuke can tell, he has his sharingan. In any other confrontation he would expect the chakra to be snapping the air, but not here. Itachi is never that obvious (shinobi through and through) and right now Sasuke is just... empty.
He is thrown back into the tree before he realizes it. The impact is nothing special. Sasuke bounces a bit, the wind barely knocked out of him, and slides. Itachi is in front of him again, kneeling down between Sasuke's legs. Sasuke's wrists are gathered up into one hand and pinned against the tree. He glares semi-defiantly, using the last vestiges of the twelve-year-old him to attempt to bring back the fire he remembers. Back from when he used to have a hope of catching up to Itachi.
Itachi examines him, not saying anything, simply looking. Itachi is smaller than Sasuke remembers, but then, he has grown a lot in the last three years, from twelve to fifteen, gotten taller, filled out, and Itachi has no more to grow. So it fits, rationally, logically, but really it just seems so... wrong. He remembers Itachi always as nearly twice his height; even last time they met, Itachi was a head taller at least.
"You've grown." Itachi comes to the same conclusion, and something like the ghost of a smile flits over his face.
This is when it begins to get strange.
Itachi knows it is Sasuke; there is no one else it can be. Nobody can pass a disguise by Itachi, much less a disguise of his own little brother. But it doesn't seem like Sasuke. This boy is broken, spilled, scattered. The Sasuke he remembers was not broken; the Sasuke he knew was not yet scattered.
There is something fascinating about the blank maturity of the face- something almost akin to looking in a mirror, though not quite. Sasuke has not let his hair grow out, though it looks rather like the last time it was cut was with a kunai. His eyes, even with the sharingan whirling, are showing no emotion, not even defeat or despair. Perhaps he really feels nothing at being deflected and disarmed so easily? Otouto never has been good at hiding his feelings.
The wrists under Itachi's hand are thin and delicate. He can feel the blood pumping through them, still contained by the miraculous net of skin and veins twined around the bones like vines on their posts. Itachi does not let his gaze leave Sasuke's face. He does not need to really watch what he is doing to know that he gets it immediately right; the kunai drives through Sasuke's hand and pins it to the tree.
A reaction, this time. Sasuke screams once, piercingly, but it is different. His voice is not the childish one it once was- age has deepened it, finally. Itachi is fascinated by the differences. And here is the most important one- in the wide, not quite frightened, pain-dimmed eyes, black as night now and not sinister bloodline limit, the fire is back. It can no longer be like looking into a mirror, because that fire is Sasuke's own- Itachi never had it. Never. It has always been his fascination with Sasuke, that fire, burning life.
And now, as he is for the first time allowed to investigate without inhibitions (morals are funny things that tend to fade very quickly in the Akatsuki) Itachi examines curiously the hand he holds, the one that is not pinned to the tree, spilling blood down Sasuke's arm and staining the white top of his open kimono.
The hand feels curiously thin in his as he presses it between two fingers, exploring not gently, but not rough enough to be damaging. The fingers move as he moves over the knuckles, feeling calluses from hand-to-hand training that have built up over the years. He can feel each bone within the hand, each tiny, strangely connected calcium formation. They move as he pinches and rolls between his fingers, to accommodate the pressure and to realign themselves properly. He is tempted to try breaking one, they seem so fragile.
Itachi settles for pulling the pinky out of its socket. Sasuke gives a pained sort of whimper, and Itachi's attention is drawn to his face, which is pale, blood-spattered, and dominated by black, burning eyes. Has no one taught him not to voice pain like that? Itachi was sure his brother had more pride than that. But there is no defiance in those eyes. Just acceptance and, for some strange reason, excitement. Interesting.
Itachi pops the finger back into its joint, and listens to the sharp intake of breath, the kind of thing that his ears are tuned to hear. He is a torture expert, after all. This is only different because he's actually doing it physically, down here on the dirt touching his victim, and, he realizes, is kneeled right between his little brother's legs.
And this is so much more interesting than anything he's done in a long while, a whole new way to use his tainted senses. He's certainly not going to kill the boy like this- that is only going to happen when Sasuke actually grows a backbone and comes against him, like their brief encounter, what, three years ago? He will only aim to kill when Sasuke does, and he knows that he will succeed.
He watches the blood still rolling down that pale arm in slowly congealing drops. It is the scent that he can smell- with it there he knows that anything else he might pick up on is truly there, truly tainted by the coppery tang, because otherwise it would be a farce, a weird lie that his senses tell to him. This way he knows that the other little smells- the sweat and dirt and leaves of the surrounding forest- are really there.
Itachi drops the hand, uninterested, but noting anyway the way that Sasuke lets it merely fall to his lap, regarding Itachi still, letting his hand bleed from above him- but it's not really anymore; it is pinned above his head, after all, and gravity works.
He is fascinated by the way Sasuke's bones work, the way the skin stretches over them this close up (never been this close before except for dead people and you didn't really like that, did you?) Fascinated by the warmth that emanates from his body, the way his eyes have that fire again even without the adoration of long ago or furious hatred of not-so-long ago. Somewhere along the line, (when you stabbed him with the kunai; you noticed then, didn't you?) Sasuke had regained some sort of purpose.
It is sad in a way, that he can no longer read his brother the way he used to. Then again, it makes it far more of a challenge, and this is the kind of challenge that Itachi can appreciate. There is that quality to Sasuke that has always intrigued him; it is still there, and therefore he shall investigate.
His fingers trace the collarbone, finding the way the muscles interact with it, but those are boring, pliable. He can train his muscles if he wants to feel them. It is perhaps not the same on Sasuke, but what Itachi is looking for is where the collarbone leads, where it connects to the shoulder joint, and there is something truly worth examining.
Sasuke resists this time. Perhaps it is just a little too demeaning to watch your brother play with your arm as though it is a toy. Partially as a whim, and partly because he was planning to do it anyway, Itachi almost thoughtfully pulls Sasuke's arm out of the socket.
There is no delightful scream this time. Itachi's not sure whether that's a good thing or not. It spares his ears, to be sure, but he remembers his brother screaming quite a lot on both of their last (and more violent) meetings. So Sasuke has learned to take torture now? Undoubtedly a result of training with Orochimaru. The snake sannin was almost as much of a sadist as Itachi is.
Itachi resets the arm with expertise born of ANBU and doing it for himself after rough training sessions. Sasuke chokes on what might have been a scream this time, if he had allowed it, and shudders. It is an interesting motion, made more interesting by the fact that Itachi can feel it, in his hands where he grips the arm and where Sasuke's legs tighten convulsively against his kneeling ones.
He resettles himself so that he is nearly sitting on one of Sasuke's legs, closer, enough that he can bend over and examine that most precious part of the body; the throat, so easily cut, so unprotected for the part which contains major arteries, veins, windpipe, spinal cord. His fingers probe over the smooth skin, the beating, fluctuating life within, pressing just a little harder because when he does, he can feel Sasuke drawing breath.
Another shudder wracks Sasuke's body, the breath speeding up under his pressure, and Itachi realizes with no small amusement that his little brother is aroused by this investigation, this torture. He presses one knee forward and sure enough, Sasuke is hard against him, breath jumping at the contact.
Itachi is not deterred in the least. Apparently Sasuke's morals have run through as much of a wringer as his have. He rubs his knee teasingly against the hardness he can feel through the folds of Sasuke's hakama, watching as the skin moves over the bones and muscles when the boy jumps, feeling the heat of Sasuke's body increase against his own, and just barely catching the fire flashing in Sasuke's eyes.
Itachi's fingertips follow the sternum now, exploring slightly to either side, the muscles twitching under his fingers. Sasuke's head falls back now, against the tree he is pinned to. Itachi's amusement is nearly tangible, for that was a motion all too easy to read- (what's the point of hiding it now that he knows?) Sasuke's arousal strains against his leg, so obviously seeking pressure and friction that is not forthcoming.
Itachi follows each of the ribs with his nails, drags rough fingers down to feel the ridges and dips. Sasuke squirms against him, for all the world like a smaller child trying to get away from an uncomfortable embrace, but Itachi is watching the flush spread over the skin (blood again, isn't it marvelous what it can do?) and can't be bothered by the comparison, because oh yes- he knows better.
It would be all too easy to become aroused by this as well- very easy, easier than it is to maintain his almost clinical interest and detachment, but for this, he wants that detachment, he wants to be able to observe. And the thought slips past before he can stop it- (there will always be a next time...) But he can't depend on that, not really. This is more important to him.
Itachi's fingers contact something more familiar to him than flesh- it is a scroll hidden in Sasuke's kimono. He is uninterested. Much better is the kunai near it. Itachi's fingers close around the metal- warmed by Sasuke's skin, but still cold on the inside, still deadly and razor sharp. He twirls it around two fingers absently as he tugs the sleeve of the kimono off of Sasuke's free shoulder.
Ah, of course. The sash has to go. Itachi pulls it off; it is rather like unraveling something, and that always pleases him. The folds of the hakama are next to go- he pulls them aside just enough to expose the hipbone and joint, leaving Sasuke's erection outlined by the cloth.
This joint is nearly as fascinating as the shoulder. Less malleable, maybe, but still fairly ingeniously designed. Itachi decides that he loves what he knows as 'ball and socket' joints, as he slips his fingers over the place where he ought to be able to feel the bone. He is slightly miffed when the well-developed muscles prevent him from finding anything other than the fairly prominent hip bone. The place where the femur joins is unreachable.
The boy's legs are drawn too tight for Itachi to manipulate the knee. He draws the line of his displeasure down the thigh with the kunai he found earlier. Sasuke bucks against his leg and a low whine makes itself heard. He does not seem to understand the message. Itachi tries again, drawing another line across the first one (it will probably leave a sort of X-shaped scar and most likely make it difficult to walk; he has scored rather deeply across the muscle this time). The whine is higher this time, mixed with a groan as the tension only increases. Blood pours thick and hot to soak the fabric of Sasuke's pants.
Itachi gives up on the lower joints as a bad deal. He starts over again at the fingers, this time using his mouth to investigate, teeth pulling at the skin and tongue pressing, trying to sink through the skin to feel the texture of the bone. Sasuke does not make any noise this time, but Itachi can feel him thrusting his hips forward semi-rhythmically, his frustration obvious in the trembles that pass through his body. It is against him in the hand he holds, in the leg he straddles and the other that presses tight to him and bleeds still, staining Itachi's clothes dark and slowly black.
Sasuke growls in protest when Itachi meticulously nibbles and pokes his tongue along Sasuke's collarbone, looking for where he can feel the shoulder working, the connecting tendon strained tight enough to almost (but not quite) feel like bone. Itachi knows what he is looking for, the searing sensation of earlier, when he gave those punishing slashes that did not work as they were meant to.
Itachi can mold to this situation. He can mold to any situation, any fight, any encounter. Right now, he has Sasuke at his mercy, eyes dark and bright and unseeing. His own sharingan paints the scene in high, red relief (and when did he turn that on?). It is not enough, just to investigate this. He wants to properly feel all of Sasuke, wants to find about those secret spots that his fingers can't reach. He wants to take the kunai and slice open those thin ribs, just to see the garish red and white and red of blood and bone and muscle and be able to touch those living, shifting, painful bones without the skin in the way, no matter how fascinating the skin is, the way it's loose and slippery and moves over everything and not just with it.
He nudges his leg forward and lets Sasuke hump it shamelessly, making little breathing mewling sounds. Itachi watches as Sasuke's face contorts and colors, as he pants and his chest heaves and his erection rubs against Itachi's leg. He watches as Sasuke involuntarily jerks and gasps as the motion pulls at the kunai pinning his hand to the tree (now stained so bright and dark with blood, the scent is everywhere and it's keeping you grounded, it's familiar in this vile and beautiful situation and that's your brother there against your leg) and Itachi splays his fingers across the cuts in Sasuke's thigh and digs into them mercilessly, the muscle slippery and hot and writhing and gushing more of the blood that feeds it, but he is really paying attention to just watching now.
Watching as Sasuke bucks particularly viciously against him and shudders and screams as his hand is sliced just a bit farther again, or perhaps because he's so obviously a fraction away from coming, but can't. Itachi lets his hand drift for the first time to Sasuke's crotch, ghosting over the fabric and feeling the hot sticky beating hardness of it under his sensitive, blood-drenched fingertips as well as on his leg. He grips it through the cloth and Sasuke thrusts against him, hard and desperate, and the strangled call on his lips sounds very like "Ita–chi!" only ends in a strange keening note that he wasn't aware his brother could produce. Sasuke shudders violently against him one last time and the cloth is warm and wet under his hands and Itachi can smell sex through the blood.
Well, little brother. Wasn't this interesting. Itachi rises from his position nearly on top of Sasuke, licking the blood and filtered semen from his fingers. Sasuke's eyes follow him tiredly, black and broken and smouldering. The fire is still there. Good.
Itachi bends and pulls the kunai out of the tree and his brother's hand, watches the blood spill. He kisses him once, gives Sasuke enough time to respond, feebly, and is amused that he did so. Then Itachi walks off through the trees.
He won't go far. Someone has to watch the boy- he's lost more blood than he probably should, and is so utterly beaten right now. Someone has to keep watch as Sasuke coughs, and dry-heaves, but does not quite vomit, and wraps his hand and leg tightly, and redresses himself, albeit clumsily with one hand. Someone has to make sure that he stumbles off in the right direction (which he does) because otherwise, how else will Itachi find him again? (Or will you even have to find him- he came to you this time, and every other time- he will come again. He has always been yours, and now– is just more yours.)
And besides– This is still Itachi's campsite, and he would like to perhaps make tea or make it look not quite as much as though someone has been killed here.
Not that he's quite sure someone hasn't. After all, his senses haven't been working quite properly for a long time.
A/N: ... Mmm. Heh. I have... not much to say about this. Other than that whether I bother with a sequel will depend on how much response I get to it. XD This is my bad attempt at darkfic. I fail, I know.