Itachi had no conscious thoughts anymore.

Susanoo was draining him quickly, and the shield he was holding was doing little more than deflecting Sasuke's attacks. The strength it took to merely breathe at this point was taking its toll on Itachi: more blood welled up n his throat, and the Uchiha doubled over in a coughing fit. Sasuke's exploding tags ceased; Kusanji came for him. Itachi reached up and knocked away the blade, acting simply on survival instinct by now. Itachi slowly staggered to his feet: he needed to act, and he needed to act now. Itachi approached Sasuke, and the younger Uchiha ended up with his back against a rock. Itachi reached out-this was his victory! He would recover and see fully again-!

Itachi felt his heart flutter a second before his body reacted.

He knew this was it, and even if he could take Sasuke's eyes, he would never have them. Itachi's hand, unable to control itself anymore, settled with both bloodied fingers on Sasuke's forehead. As Sasuke stared in astonishment, Itachi managed one final smirk.

"Stupid little brother."

And that was it. The whole world faded to black, a deep velvet curtain falling across Itachi's consciousness. The elder Uchiha collapsed to the ground, Susanoo dissipating into mist and smoke. Black finally covered Itachi's vision, and the Sharingan vanished for the final time.

OOOOOOOOOOO

Sasuke wasn't sure how to react at first. Was his brother dead? Had he killed himself with the Sharingan? Or was he faking it, wanting Sasuke to come closer and spare him the effort? Sasuke finally worked up his courage and stepped forward, dropping to his knees next to Itachi's body. One hand moved to his neck; barely a flutter underneath his fingers. Sasuke let out his breath in one heave, bowing his head over his brother's body. "You stupid, stupid, man," he whispered, letting one hand rest across Itachi's chest. "You idiot…you could have had it all. You just had to push it, didn't you…?" Sasuke almost laughed at Itachi: it was ironic. He had wanted to kill him so badly, and now, he couldn't bring himself to even wrap his hands around Itachi's neck. His other hand moved back to his kunai pouch; one finger, then two, then three, four, and five curled around the metal handle of a kunai. Sasuke brought it around to the front of his body and braced it against Itachi's neck. Slit the throat? No, too messy. The kunai travelled across Itachi's half-fishnet shirt to rest above his barely-beating heart. No, that was messy as well. Sasuke considered his brother's lungs, liver, stomach, and intestines. All took too long. Maybe through the head? No, he didn't have the strength. Break his neck? He should be able to do that…Sasuke let out a shuddering sigh. He was kneeling here, in front of his dream, and yet…and yet, something was holding him back. Sasuke slowly dropped the kunai next to Itachi's head, one single tear welling up in his eye.

The kunai had sliced open his brother's hairtie.

Sasuke was brought back to the one time he had ever seen his brother with his hair unbound, and he had marveled at how beautiful it was. Itachi was lying in bed, asleep, when Sasuke had gotten up to get a drink of water. A nightmare; nothing more. He was eight, and his brother was thirteen. Itachi had gone to bed early, claiming he needed rest for his mission tomorrow. As expected, when Sasuke walked past Itachi's room, the teen had woken up, Sharingan flashing viciously in the night. Sasuke gasped with surprise; he knew Itachi was a light sleeper, but the Sharingan?! Was it instinct, or had he been awake this entire time? Itachi slowly sat up, and Sasuke remembered seeing his hair falling over his shoulders in an inky wave before he grabbed a clip from his nightstand and twisted it up behind his head. Sasuke had been stunned, and Itachi had released the Sharingan at this point. He stood up; he was dressed in sleep pants and a tee shirt. "What are you doing up?" Itachi had asked tiredly. Sasuke was still in shock, but managed to explain about his nightmare and wanting to go to the bathroom. Itachi sighed and came to the door, sliding back the flimsy rice paper and wood and picking up Sasuke in his arms. "Come on," he whispered, carrying the boy into the bathroom. "Get your drink, and let's get back to bed." Itachi had waited until Sasuke had gotten his drink and then stepped out of the way of the door, waiting for Sasuke to leave the bathroom before he himself went back to bed. Instead, Sasuke stood in front of him, arms extended, asking Itachi to pick him up without even using words. Itachi sighed, but picked up his little brother and carried him back to bed. "You are such a child," Itachi scolded, but otherwise made no complaint as he put Sasuke back in bed.

When he straightened, the hairclip was gone.

Itachi glanced around, sputtering, and Sasuke shyly held up the jaw clip. Itachi sighed again, but smiled, and took the clip back from Sasuke. "You are a child," he said with a grin, and gently ruffled Sasuke's hair. "Now go back to sleep."

Sasuke was happy for once, satisfied that he had pleasantly upset Itachi. He slept well that night, and never once mentioned the incident to Itachi. Up until now, he hardly remembered it. But now, seeing his brother beneath him, hair untied and falling around his shoulders, Sasuke couldn't help but remember.

"You don't remember, do you?" he whispered, "That night I caught you with your hair down…the night you carried me around the house, and I stole your hair clip…you were such a teenage girl." Sasuke slid one hand under Itachi's head, picking him up and gently sliding his eyelids closed. "I never understood you…but I didn't have to. You understood me, and that was good enough. I liked it the way it was-just you and me, together playing in the back yard…and then you had to go and kill it…quite literally. You were insane, I believe…but I never found out for real, because you ran away." The other hand found Itachi's body, pulling him across bent knees. "You fool…! I hate you, and I can't even kill you!"

Sasuke let his head fall to Itachi's body, and wept.

It took Sasuke a good fifteen minutes to let everything out: the hatred, the anger, the frustration, the way he had been so harsh on himself for all his life because of Itachi…when he was finally done, Itachi's face carried more blood, this time from Sasuke's knuckles, and a significant amount of bruises-also from Sasuke's knuckles. When Sasuke was finally done beating his brother's unconscious body, he was left panting and decidedly less angry. He vaguely registered three presences come up next to him, and raised his head after a moment.

"He's dead?"

It was Karin who had spoken, but Sasuke shook his head. "I couldn't do it," he whispered. "I always wanted to…but somehow…I can't…"

"It's your business mind taking over," the kunoichi said dryly. "We could always use a handle on Akatsuki, you know…a very convenient handle, given that you might gather your courage later…"

Sasuke sighed. "If that's the case, by all means, make that my excuse…but I'll never be able to live with myself, knowing that I was too pansy to take his life."

Karin shrugged. "Beat yourself up, beat him up, it doesn't matter. You got yourself a nice hunk of flesh here, and we can either use it or sell it. Take your pick."

"I'll deal with him later," Sasuke growled. "For now, tie him and carry him back to Oto. I want him adequately restrained so when he wakes up, he isn't even tempted to run."

"And by that you mean…?"

Sasuke sighed. "Since you asked, hands, feet, and collar him. I don't need him getting confident, either. Break him right from the beginning, and we won't have a problem later."

Karin looked almost concerned as she knelt next to Itachi and began winding a thick rope around the Uchiha's hands, tying them together in front of his body. She said nothing, working quietly as Juugo tied his feet. Suigetsu supplied a collar, but only Karin was brave enough to fasten it around Itachi's neck. "If he was at full strength, I wouldn't even be thirty feet away from this guy," Suigetsu muttered. "I have to admit, he scares me shitless." Karin sighed.

"Just let Juugo carry him," she snapped, and thrust the body at Juugo. The man accepted the load without much complaint; an unconscious, wounded Itachi was preferable to a conscious, wounded Sasuke. Sasuke took off ahead of them all for Oto, leaving it to Karin, Suigetsu, and Juugo to follow.

He didn't want anyone to see the tears of regret that threatened to overcome him as he ran.

OOOOOOOOOO

Itachi woke up very slowly, and even then had no idea where he was.

The elder Uchiha could feel bandages around most of his body, but could get past that very easily to ponder where he was. Well, the restraints might be a place to start…Itachi slowly moved each of his limbs, trying to see what he could move and how far. His hands were chained together with a pair of handcuffs, but otherwise seemed free to move. His feet were loosely bound so that he could walk, but not run. Alright, he could live with that. What he couldn't live with was what he discovered next.

"A collar?" he muttered, pushing two fingers underneath it. "Okay, too far!" Itachi reached around the back of his neck to unfasten the thick leather strap, only to find it secured to a leash. With a cry of rage, Itachi ripped it off with one mighty tug, casting aside the instrument of torture and sitting up. His wounds, however, forced him to release another cry, this one of pain. His ribs were throbbing! They had their own heartbeat! Itachi fell back to the bed, gasping and heaving with the strain put on his body. His bare skin fell on soft satin sheets, with more of those covering his body. Itachi blushed as he realized that he had been stripped down to boxers, bathed, bandaged, and then put to bed in someone else's room. Humiliating! But still, the bed was comfortable: it looked like he was in a master suite. Past the silk sheets were dozens of velvet pillows, stacked high against an intricate headboard of a four-poster bed. The walls were deep ebony; the carpet was a dark, dark, red, almost maroon if it was a bit more purple. Heavy velvet curtains hung from gold decorative rods, and they were pulled shut over massive windows. A plush-seated bench was underneath one of the windows. Bookcases lined the walls to either side of Itachi, and a massive mirror was resting on a vanity directly across from the bed. The vanity was a satin black, and several candles rested atop it, all in glass jars of amazing detail. A candle sat on the nightstand next to the bed, and this one was in a gold holder. Itachi reached over and picked it up, surprised at the beauty. Whose room was this? It was stunning-simply gorgeous, and obviously for someone of stature.

Like an Otokage.

Itachi's heart picked up as he realized he was in Orochimaru's room. But wait-Sasuke had the snake contained, didn't he? No-during their battle, Itachi vaguely remembered Orochimaru breaking free. Oh, he was going to be pissed-

"Well, now, awake at last, I see."

Itachi glanced up, panting hard, trying to see the identity of his visitor. A caped, hooded figure stood before him, nothing visible in the poor lighting of the room underneath the hood.

"Where is Orochimaru? I felt him leave me, now where is he?"

"Kabuto?" Itachi sat up, much more slowly this time, and stared up at the figure in front of him. The figure visibly scowled and reached up, bringing the hood away from his face. Itachi's eyes widened in shock; this was the tender, fragile little boy Sasori had passed off to Orochimaru years before?! And he was older than him! Itachi had only heard the stories, but really, he had expected someone…

"You were expecting someone more boyish…more innocent, no?"

Itachi sighed, then nodded. "The stories I heard were interesting, but nothing short of odd. What exactly are you, to be the sole survivor of a battle?"

Kabuto's hands flashed out, connecting with the side of Itachi's face in a vicious slap. "Hold your tongue!" Kabuto snapped. "I have no patience for you, and I could have killed you countless times before now and still now! Even if you are an Uchiha, you are weak! You're a fool! You have no idea-!"

"Kabuto, shut up."

Kabuto's mouth snapped shut, and he stepped aside as yet another shadowy figure was revealed. Itachi slowly put pressure into his muscles, tearing the ropes his feet were bound with. He needed to break the handcuffs now; but how? It would be frightfully obvious with his positioning-

"Don't even try breaking loose-you're not going anywhere."

Itachi was up in seconds, relying on his hands to taking him up and over the foot of the bed. One leg was outstretched, kicking out at Sasuke's face, and the other was stretched out to the side for balance. Itachi catapulted towards Sasuke's stunned face-

A second too late.

A hand fastened over his bare foot, throwing him into the wall across the room. Itachi managed to catch himself and land on his feet, breaking the handcuffs right in front of Sasuke's eyes. He pulled a knife he had found in the pillows and charged Sasuke with reckless abandon, ducking down and swinging one leg around to sweep Sasuke's out from underneath him. Sasuke fell to his brother's speed, even in his injured state, and the two ended up wrestling with each other on the floor. Finally, Sasuke pinned Itachi down using a knee in the gut. Itachi choked out blood as he was forcibly subdued, and Sasuke smacked him-hard-before picking up both of Itachi's wrists and pressuring them into the floor. Itachi lay panting for a moment, trying to get his bearings and trying to find out what Sasuke wanted.

"It seems you're still a bit off-kilter," Sasuke sneered, driving his knee into Itachi's stomach. Itachi grit his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut-he would not be forced to scream! He would not give Sasuke that pleasure! Still, when Sasuke drove more weight into it, Itachi let go of a strangled cry of anguish. Sasuke released his brother's stomach, satisfied, and settled back a bit, but still kept his position in Itachi's stomach.

"Well, now that you've let go of a bit of nervous energy…"

Sasuke transferred both of Itachi's wrists to one hand, drew back his fist, and let it fly. Itachi was hit with the full force of the blow, but took it silently. "I deserved that," he murmured, spitting out a bit of blood. He had accidently bitten his lip in an effort not to scream…

"Yes, you did," Sasuke snarled. "Now, if you're lucky, I'll only discipline you when necessary. But until then, you're going to help me out a little with Akatsuki."

"You mean I'm your bargaining tool, and personal slave until I'm either killed or given back to Akatsuki as a prisoner."

Sasuke shrugged. "Well, since you seem to have it all figured out…"

Itachi sighed and finally relaxed all his muscles, going limp underneath Sasuke in prayers of getting that knee surgically removed from between his ribs. Sasuke seemed to realize Itachi's (almost) submission and slowly withdrew his leg, watching for the slightest sign of aggression. "Well?" Itachi whispered. "You have me trapped here, completely under your control, submissive, and injured. What are you going to do to me?"

Sasuke smirked. "Whatever. I. Want."

OOOOOOOOOO

Itachi pulled angrily at the chain around his neck for what must have been the fortieth time in six minutes. He was pissed off; Sasuke had seen it necessary to collar him and chain him down whenever he wasn't within his brother's sight. And so far, Sasuke was spending an awful lot of time in the hallway, answering the door…

Finally, Itachi heard the door close, and Sasuke came back in, just as Itachi took a bite at the leash attached to his collar. One of Sasuke's eyebrows rose in amusement, and his arms folded across his chest. Oh, he so enjoyed torturing Itachi!

"Tastes like chicken," Itachi spat, and put some chakra into the bite. The nylon finally tore with a satisfying snap! and Itachi stood up, still glaring at Sasuke. "Chicken long overdue to me."

"Can someone say, 'princess'?" Sasuke sneered. "You'll get your food when I see fit. Which is not going to be any time soon, given the lip you're giving me right now."

"I'm hungry," Itachi growled. "And I'm angry when I'm hungry. As I'm sure you're aware."

"You're lucky I'm not asking you to do much yet," Sasuke growled, snatching the end of Itachi's leash and hauling him over to him. He shoved Itachi to his knees and locked a pair of handcuffs around his slender wrists, making sure Itachi couldn't perform any hand signs with the way his wrists were crossed. "Little bitch." Sasuke seized a handful of Itachi's gorgeous hair, yanking his head back and forcing him to stare up at Sasuke from his knees. Sasuke's mouth immediately curved down into a frown when he saw the look on Itachi's face.

"You've still got that defiant look in your eye," he mused. "Well, I guess I'll just have to fix that. The reason I took so long in the hall was because I was making arrangements for you. I can't adequately discipline you anymore, nor do I have the time for you. And so, I am passing you on to one of my more favored subordinates-he can play with you for a month or so before I want you back." Sasuke's lips formed a devilish smirk. "Be forewarned, aniki: the pain he will put you through is going to be horrendous. I doubt you have a fear; he will give you many. And if you do have one, he will discover it and exploit it. Don't even ask me who I'm giving you to: you'll meet him tomorrow. But for now…" Sasuke released Itachi's hair and kicked him in the ribs. "Clean the bathroom."

A/N: Ever wondered how Sasuke got his revenge on Itachi? Yeah, he made him clean the bathroom…o.O Anyway, I only update with reviews, and the more the reviews, the faster the update. So…hit that button!!