"Art Of Love"

CHAPTER 15

World was a sad place. Full of broken hopes, shattered dreams and forgotten ambitions... what a sad and pitiful place indeed...

"Sasuke... Oi, Sasuke?" Naruto shook my shoulder lightly and my head snapped up to look at him.

"Hn?" I grunted, glancing into his worried eyes. "No, I haven't decided yet." I added, already knowing what this was about. Naruto bit his lip slightly.

"Sasuke... you know you've got only a week more." The blond said. Yeah, I knew it God damn well. Strange enough, my possible leaving was right before the day Naruto and Sai were leaving to Europe to get married... which meant I wouldn't be able to go with them as well. I felt really bad about it, letting Naruto down in a moment like this, but as he said earlier, my presence at his wedding couldn't decide about my future and he was right. "You haven't told Itachi yet, have you?"

I sighed in frustration, running a hand through my hair.

"No, Naruto, I haven't." I said, slightly irritated. "What is the point of telling him if I decide not to go?" Seriously, why worry him?

"Yeah well... but what if you decide to go after all? You're gonna tell him in the last moment, just before leaving forever?" Naruto asked, raising an eyebrow and I had to admit that he was right... but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. God, how could I look straight into his eyes after all we've been through and tell I was leaving to go some place on the other side of the Earth? The only logical solution in this situation was not to leave at all, but this proposition was extremely tempting, it was a once in a lifetime thing...

"Ugh, I just don't know what to do." I said, closing my eyes tightly and thinking about all of this for God knows which time this day. Seriously, I had never been so lost in my entire life.

"We've been over this Sasuke..." Naruto said, his voice gentle. "I can't tell you what to do, you know your options very well, the only thing that's left is to decide... and I trust you'll do the right thing."

"Tch, what is the right thing?" I asked, looking at him sceptically. Was there even such a thing as the right thing in this situation?

"Oh, I think you know what I'm talking about..." I looked at my blond friend again. Yeah, I bet he wanted me to stay with Itachi. After all, for him the thing that mattered the most were the people you are with, not career and such. "And you know what? I think you know that that's the right thing to do as well."

I glanced at him in wonder, as he turned around and gathered his things before saying goodbye and leaving. Yeah, the right thing to do... just, should I do the right thing or the thing I really want to do?

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

"I'm home." I said without enthusiasm after entering my apartment. Taking my coat off, I headed to the living room only to find my brother in the kitchen, preparing our meal.

"You don't sound too happy." He said after turning around and looking at me with an arched eyebrow. I looked at him closely. There was something different in his eyes, something more beside the usual humour and amusement... something like expectation. I shrugged my shoulders; I really didn't feel like dwelling on it right now or ever.

"Tired." I said simply and wanted to sit on the couch, but changed my mind at the hurt look he gave me. God, he almost looked at me like he knew about everything... but it just wasn't possible, I never brought the letter back home and he hadn't been in my Studio since it came.

Smirking lightly, I came to stand behind him and put my arms around his waist, putting my cheek on his back.

"How was work?" I asked, stroking his stomach with my fingers lightly.

"Hm... the usual. Father ignores me all the time and sends me those disapproving looks." He said, shrugging his shoulders and doing something with the food he was preparing, before turning around in my embrace and putting his arms around my neck loosely.

"Well, at least he didn't do anything stupid. He does think sometimes after all." I said, scoffing slightly. I could tell my brother was still bothered by our father's behaviour... very slightly, but still.

"Heh." Itachi said while smirking and leaning down only to capture my lips in a soft kiss. "I don't feel like talking about our father right now..."

"Some big brother you are..." I said, smirking as well and leaning to kiss him again, this time more passionately. Pulling his hands from around my neck, Itachi put them into my hair, bringing our faces even closer and slipping his tongue inside my mouth.

"Mhm..."I moaned lightly, but then something inside me told me to pull away... and that's what I did. "Wait..." I said, licking my lips quickly and looking away. God, it felt so wrong for some reason. To do this, it was almost like giving him the false hope... wait, it kinda sounded like I already decided on what to do...

"Sasuke?" Itachi asked frowning. I moved my head up, took one glance at his warily watching eyes and quickly turned my head away once again.

"Sorry..." I whispered very quietly. Seriously, what I was supposed to say? I just hoped he didn't get the wrong idea like I was seeing someone else or something...

There was an awkward silence between us for the next few minutes until Itachi sighed and crossed his arms over his chest.

"When were you going to tell me?" He asked, his voice patient. My eyes went wide, as I looked at him.

"Tell you? Tell you what?" I asked, words coming out form my mouth at the unnatural speed and with fake confusion. So he did know after all? But how, damn it...

"Sasuke please." He said, making a face and looking at me with an arched brow. "It's bad enough you didn't tell me the moment you received this proposition, so at least stop pretending now."

I opened and closed my mouth several times, looking at him in pure shock. Right, leave it to my brother to know utterly everything...

"But...how?" I asked finally and Itachi sighed.

"Naruto." My brother said and I felt a sudden wave of anger. "Don't be angry at him, it's a good thing he did that, he knows you too well. He realized very well that you weren't going to tell me anything until the very last moment."

"Right..." I said, looking away. I was both angry with him and glad that he did that... but my brother sure put one hell of an act, pretending not to know about anything all this time. Not that I should be surprised, it's not like it was the first time.

"So... what are you going to do?" Itachi asked after the next few seconds of silence. I forced myself to look at him and damn, was he scary. All calm, even emotionless... which, ironically, only proved how much he cared.

"I..." I started, not really knowing what to say. "I haven't decided yet."

Itachi just nodded his head at that, almost like expecting such an answer. God, sometimes while talking with my brother I get this feeling that he already knows everything I am going to say and my presence there was actually needless.

"It gives you great opportunities, that's what you wanted all your life right?" He asked and I nodded uncertainly. "But I won't be able to follow you there."

"Yeah..." I said almost inaudibly while he observed me, his expression not changing even one bit.

"So, I'm the only thing that holds you back." I opened my mouth to say something, it was such a harsh way to put it... but nothing came out. Itachi smiled sadly. "You know I'm right."

Gritting my teeth as my eyes started to sting I stepped forward and rested my forehead on his chest. Why did everything always have to be so hard? Why did everything have to happen at the least appropriate time? Somewhere in the back of my mind I even started to think that it was a bad thing Itachi suddenly came back into my life... it would be so much easier without it. I would just pack my bags then and leave without second a thought whatsoever...

"I think you should go." Itachi said suddenly and my head snapped up. No, he wasn't looking at me with cold eyes or the emotionless face... he was actually smiling, the most genuine smile I've ever seen on his face. This only made my stomach twist painfully. "I don't want you to think later on that because of me you lost your opportunity. You would come to hate me someday at this point... and I don't think I could deal with that, again."

"Itachi..." I said, hugging him tightly and putting my wet face against his chest. "But are you going to be alright? I don't want to leave you here all alone..."

"Sasuke." Itachi said and I could tell he rolled his eyes. "I'm a big boy, remember? I won't be alone, there's Deidara, Kisame, Sasori and Naruto and Sai of course. I think I'll manage... somehow."

There was only a silence after that. I wasn't able to say anything more... and I think he wasn't as well.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

"So that's it?" Naruto asked as we stood on the airport, his face dull.

"I guess..." I said, and looked around nervously.

"He won't be coming." The blond said, his voice sounding somewhat irritated. I looked at him. I couldn't tell, did this surprise me... or not really? "You can't blame him."

"I know." I said, looking away. I wasn't upset that Naruto was the only one that came to the airport; he, Sai and my brother were the only ones that actually knew I was leaving. I didn't want some big, teary farewell to start with, I knew Sai wouldn't be able to make it since he and Naruto were leaving tomorrow, but Itachi... well, it was like Naruto said, I couldn't blame him for not coming. I half expected him to do just that actually. "Still..."

"Still why does it hurt so much?" Naruto asked, arching his brow. He couldn't make it more obvious that he didn't agree with my decision in the slightest, seriously. "Maybe because you're doing the wrong thing, Sasuke? Maybe that's what your heart is telling you?"

"Tch, don't be ridiculous..." I said, in a not very convincing tone.

"Sasuke..." Naruto sighed with resignation. "What was the thing you wanted to do before Itachi told you to go?"

"I don't know." I said shortly.

"Oh, I think you know damn well." Naruto said, stepping closer and putting one hand on my shoulder. "And I think that was the right solution."

"Then why didn't he tell me to stay instead of encouraging to go?" I snapped angrily at the blond, frowning at him. "Why didn't he say that he wanted to keep me with him?"

"Do you even hear yourself, Sasuke? Are you doing this because you want to or just because you're angry at him for letting you go?" Naruto said, shaking me lightly. "Itachi said it because he really loves you, because he puts your happiness before his! That's what it is all about Sasuke! Loving someone more than yourself and being able to let them go!"

"Naruto..." I said, completely stunned at my friend's words. I'd never thought about it like that...

"It's not too late to go back." He said quietly but firmly, his blue eyes concentrated. I hesitated for a moment...

"No." I said finally, turning my eyes away and gritting my teeth. The blond let go of my arms.

"Whatever Sasuke." He said, sounding hurt. "Just remember, when you're on top, you're alone. Just what else are you going to sacrifice, Sasuke? You should be careful with that. Because you will wake up one day having absolutely nothing and then you will ask yourself if it was really worth it... and when you come to conclusion that no, it wasn't worth it, it will be already too late to do anything."

After that we stood in silence, Naruto watching me sadly, I, glancing nowhere in particular, not really wanting to think about his words. Finally the voice announced that it was time for me to head to the plane. I was somehow relieved to hear that, I didn't know how long I was going to be able to stand there like that.

"I guess I should be going." I said, and took one step, before Naruto grabbed my arm abruptly and pulled me into a tight hug.

"Where do you think you're going, teme? Say a proper goodbye at least." He said, pushing his face into my neck and I could tell he was crying. Smiling slightly, I hugged him back.

"Sorry dobe." I said, stroking his back gently. "Take care, you deserve the best... and thank you."

"Heh, teme..." Naruto said, moving away from me a little, and wiping his cheeks from the tears. "Thanks and... same to you. Remember you have a place to come back to."

"Yeah..." I said, before leaning down and kissing his cheek chastely. "Goodbye."

"Sasuke!" Naruto called after me, just when I was crossing the yellow line. I turned around and looked at him questioningly. "It's not a goodbye! It's see you soon!"

I laughed lightly while shaking my head, as the blond cracked a huge grin through his tears, waving enthusiastically.

Yeah, not a goodbye... somehow, deep down, I really wanted it to be true.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

(6 months later)

I climbed up the stairs to my small apartment slowly. God was this country freakin hot... not that it wasn't to be expected, it's midsummer right now and it was Italy after all.

These six months I've been here have passed irritatingly slowly and really fast at the same time. I had tons of work, but not that I was complaining, it was really something and I didn't mind working from dawn to dusk. The problem started when I came to the empty apartment in the evening after it. It was the worst... I always started to think about what I had done, was it right or wrong and how was Itachi and everyone else doing. Of course it wasn't like I didn't contact them, sure I did, mostly Naruto though. He always gave me the full play-by-play of what happened during the time we didn't talk. Sure I called Itachi a few times as well, but whenever we started to talk, it was some random stuff. It was like neither of us wanted to mention anything serious, because the other would brake down immediately.

The worst thing was that because we didn't say a goodbye to each other, I felt like I left something unfinished. Sure we couldn't be considered a couple anymore, but still... still, we were brothers all the same.

"God, I need to invest in some air condition..." I grunted to myself as I finally came to stand in front of my door and started to look for the keys in my bag.

"So you don't have it in your apartment? God, I thought I'd be able to cool down in there a little..."

"No such luck—" I said, before stopping abruptly. Wait, who was I talking too; there was no one here beside me. Turning my head to the side slowly, I saw a dark, tall figure sitting by the wall on the staircase, waving a newspaper near his face.

"Not happy to see me?" Itachi asked, arching his brow and smirking at my completely shocked face.

"W-when..." I said, my eyes wide as I looked at my brother, sitting there casually.

"Just a few hours ago."

"How—"

"By plane, of course."

"Why..." I said finally, frowning slightly. My brother's sneaky face was dropped immediately.

"Because I needed to see you." He said, his voice completely serious. I observed him silently. God, what was this feeling in my stomach of... utter happiness? That was so weird, just one glance at him sitting there not far away from me made me want to jump him immediately. Here, I started to think that I was somehow getting over him... but then again, maybe I just talked myself into believing that.

"Come inside..." I said in a quiet voice, not really knowing what to do. This urge to just grab and kiss him right there on the spot was simply enormous... but how could I try something like that after everything I've done? Plus he said he needed to see me... what if he wanted to tell me something? Like that he met someone and was getting married? Oh God, now that was one hell of a frightening thought... I felt a sudden panic rising inside, what if that was the issue? Maybe I really shouldn't have left and listened to Naruto instead...

"Sasuke?" My brother asked, looking at me weirdly. I realized that I was standing in the doorway, blocking the passage and hyperventilating.

"Oh... sorry..." I said, moving aside quickly and letting him in. When we made it inside, Itachi sat on the couch in the living room heavily while I went to the kitchen to grab something cold to drink.

"Here." I said, handing him the glass and sitting close beside him, but not so close as to let our bodies touch.

"Thanks." He said, taking a sip and looking around with a small smirk. "Nice place."

I looked around and noticed tones of papers, clothes and other stuff on the floor.

"Heh." I laughed shortly running my hand through my hair. "Sorry, I don't really have a time to clean it."

"So busy with your work?" He asked while glancing at me and I nodded. "Then I take it you're satisfied with it."

"Yeah..." I said, all the time being aware that he was looking at me, but not being able to turn my eyes to him. "It's really different from Japan."

"Mhm. Then that's good I guess..." He said quietly, his voice full of wonder. That's how our talks always went, ever since I left. God, was it awkward... and this twisting feeling in my stomach didn't help my case either.

I don't know how long we sat in silence like that, but the feeling of my brother's fingers moving gently and uncertainly along my cheek made me finally look at him.

"Sasuke..." Itachi said quietly, gazing straight at me with eyes full of care and...happiness.

I swallowed nervously at that, my breathing quickening. I didn't have the slightest clue as to what was going on, but I didn't move from my spot as well. I just let him do whatever the hell he wanted, since, damn it, it felt so fucking good like absolutely nothing in these last six months.

Receiving no protest from me whatsoever, Itachi shifted in his place, slowly leaning forward without breaking eye contact even for a second. When he was just a few millimetres from me he stopped, but didn't cease to stroke my cheek.

I looked straight into his eyes, debating with myself quickly. If I were to do it, it was going to hurt like hell again when left... but even this thought didn't seem too convincing in this situation...

Lifting my hand, I slipped my fingers into his hair and let my eyes fall closed, as I brought our lips together without further delay. Itachi, even if a little uncertain at first, immediately started to suck at my lower lip asking... no, begging for entry.

Opening my mouth I let him slip his tongue inside and shifted in my place as well, so now I was partially sitting on top of him with my legs on each side of his waist, I didn't even notice when I lost my shirt along with my trousers, the kiss was that passionate.

"Mhm... wait..." I murmured, pushing Itachi away a little. He was currently sitting on top of me with, also with no shirt and trousers.

"What's wrong?" He asked while frowning, his voice worried. "You have someone?"

"What?" I asked shocked, looking at him weirdly. Then I laughed shortly. Believe it or not but I couldn't bring myself to have sex with anyone during the last few months. Yeah, I actually lasted six months without sex whatsoever and that's something for a person who used to have it a few times a week... "No, that's not it."

"Then what? Sasuke, if you don't want to, just say so..." He said, his expression softening.

"No, it's just... didn't you say you needed to see me? Like, to say something?" I asked, still slightly confused by the situation I was currently in.

"No, I just wanted to see you, that's what I meant." My brother said, smiling lightly and leaning down to kiss my lips chastely. "I missed you so much."

"So you aren't getting married or anything of that sort? Thank God." I said more to myself then to Itachi, but he laughed all the same.

"What?" He asked looking at me weirdly and chuckling softly. "Where did that come from?"

"Well, when you said you needed to see me I felt like you had something important to tell me." I said and looked at his smiling face. Somehow, it felt like I never left, this situation right now. Like everything was perfectly alright between us...

"Heh, so you do care after all." Itachi said playfully and I scoffed, hitting his shoulder lightly.

"Of course I care, I love you—" I finished abruptly. Looking away, I could literally feel the mood going down hill. "Sorry... I shouldn't really say something like that after everything that happened..." I added in a whisper and waited for some kind of reaction from my brother, still not looking at him. Finally I felt his forehead on my shoulder and his hot breath against my skin.

"Do you?" Itachi asked, his voice weirdly restricted, almost like he was holding something back.

"Itachi..." I said, starting to feel my throat tightening.

"Just answer sincerely." He said in an almost pleading tone. I thought about it for a moment. Not about how I felt of course, but whether I should tell him the truth or not. "Please."

"I do." I said finally, and I could tell he was able to recognize that I was being honest with him. Moving away, Itachi looked at me directly, bringing one of his hands and moving his fingers along my cheek.

"I love you too." He said, his voice full of...well, just that – love. In that moment I realized that I couldn't take it anymore. How could I have done what I did? Sure the work and people here were okay, but when I saw Itachi earlier today I suddenly felt like some big, empty hole inside me had been filled. I didn't completely realize it was there before, but now I know it perfectly well.

"I'm so sorry." I said, covering my face with my hands. "I shouldn't have left... God, how could I leave you, you're the most important thing in my life..."

"Sasuke, calm down, it's okay." He said in a soft, patient voice, prying my hands away from my face and wiping the tears away.

"How can you say it's okay? Nothing's okay!" I said, sitting up and making Itachi do the same. "I did something like this to you and now... now you're gonna leave again and nothing will be fine anymore!"

We looked at each other in silence, both of us shocked at my reaction. Before I could even consider what to do next, my brother smiled, but one of those sneaky smiles of his.

"Sasuke..." Itachi started, shaking his head. "Just when exactly did I say anything about going back?"

My mouth fell open at that. I blinked a few times as my brother smirked even wider and scooted closer, lifting his hand and starting to play with my hair.

"You're not..." I said, and suddenly felt like it was a situation from earlier today all over again.

"No, unless you really want me to." He said, leaning forward and kissing my forehead lightly.

"But your bag..."

"I only took that much since I didn't know how you'd react. Don't worry, Deidara's ready to send everything I'll need." Itachi said, this time kissing my cheek.

"Job?" I asked shortly this time.

"I quit, actually two months ago." He said and I frowned at this. Itachi sighed. "I just couldn't take it anymore. Without you it seemed so much harder all of sudden... see what you do to me?"

"Itachi..." Great, now I felt guilty. Not only was it me who left, but now Itachi wanted to repair everything himself.

"No, don't start to feel guilty on me." My brother said, smile returning on his lips. "I shouldn't have let you go to begin with... and I don't mean it like not letting you go, I mean it like going with you. Sure nothing waited for me here... but there was nothing for me in Japan as well, beside you of course."

"You know, even though you said not to feel guilty, your words only made me feel like a bigger and bigger jerk all of sudden." I said, putting my forehead to his.

"Well, okay, I'll admit it if it's gonna make you feel better. You did act like an asshole, leaving me behind and choosing your career." He said and I shot him a glare, even despite knowing that he was right.

"Thanks." I said sarcastically and he just smirked.

"No problem." He said, kissing me on the lips softly, before putting his forehead to mine once again. "But you know, if you were able to wait five years for me then I could wait six months."

"Not funny." I said, scowling at him.

"What I'm saying is we all make mistakes." Itachi said, this time his voice completely serious, but not unpleasant. We observed each other in silence. There was nothing more to say, really... I was sorry, he was sorry. I didn't want him to leave ever again and so did he. "I guess I'll have to start to learn Italian now."

I laughed at that. Yeah it was alright now.

"Don't worry, it's fairly easy." I said smiling at my brother. It was alright because we were together.

"Well, I certainly do hope so, knowing you we won't stay here for long as well." He said while smirking playfully and I pouted at him, but leaned to kiss him a second later.

We were headed in a new direction now. Somewhere where the both of us were able to go.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

A/N: ...I KNOW! It took me forever XD I'm SORRY, but I just couldn't bring myself to write it! GOMENEEEEE!!!!

Well, it's done now, thankfully XD I hope you enjoyed it, that it wasn't too cheesy and so on...

Anyway, since it's the last chapter I wanted to thank my beta for all the editing she did for me! THANK YOU XD And of course, to all my reviewers! If it wasn't for you, I'd probably drop this, or any other project for that matter, in the middle or something XD LOV YA!