It is strange how a few words and actions could become so engrained into one's memory that one never forgets them...
Sasuke was four years old, and Itachi was nine. And in Sasuke's eyes, there could not possibly be a better older brother. Itachi graduated from the ninja academy with seven and activated his Sharingan with eight. That meant he was really strong, right?
Unfortunately, that also meant he was really busy. Their mother often said that Itachi shouldn't train so much, strangely only when Fugaku wasn't present. So Sasuke decided to wait until their father was gone before trying to make Itachi do just that.
Sasuke approached Itachi shyly as the latter was polishing his kunai.
No answer, only a quick glance that showed that he was listening.
"Do you…I mean…Would you go to the park with me?" Sasuke asked, before looking at the ground and closing his eyes tightly.
It was silent for a while until Sasuke felt two fingers poke his forehead.
"Forgive me, Sasuke. Not today."
Sasuke nodded, keeping his gaze on the wooden floor. It had been worth a try.
Mikoto, who had been listening to them from the hallway, entered the room.
"Sasuke-chan, you said you wanted to watch while I make the healing salves, right? I was planning to make them now."
Actually, she hadn't been; but it would be a good way to distract her younger child. While Sasuke was forbidden to practise aiming with kunai and shuriken without supervision until he was deemed old enough, she had offered him to watch while she made medicine herself. He was happy to at least be learning something good for ninjas.
And better yet; it was something Itachi could not do.
"Coming Kaa-san!" Sasuke raced out of the room and into the direction of the small herb garden his mother kept.
Mikoto smiled at Itachi and said, "You should take a break sometime Itachi-kun. Don't overwork yourself."
Mikoto smiled again and followed Sasuke into the garden.
Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack.
Eight kunai impaled themselves into eight different target. Each of them hit it dead centre.
Eleven year old Itachi landed on the ground silently while six year old Sasuke emerged from behind a tree where his brother had told him to take cover.
"Wow," Sasuke breathed. "Nii-san, you're so good! You even nailed the mark in a blind spot right in the middle!"
Sasuke's hand twitched to his own kunai.
"Sasuke, let's head back," Itachi called.
"You told me that you'd teach me some new shuriken moves!" Sasuke replied, suppressing a pout. According to his father, pouting was a big no-no for an Uchiha (along with things such as tripping, grinning, slouching and a lot of other things)
"I've got a crucial mission tomorrow and I've got to prepare for it," his brother replied.
"Nii-san, you liar," Sasuke murmured, but Itachi's trained ears still picked it up. Smiling slightly, he beckoned Sasuke to him with one hand. Grinning (what his father didn't know couldn't hurt him), Sasuke ran towards his brother, only to be tapped on his forehead hard.
"Forgive me Sasuke, maybe next time."
Sasuke was seven, and Itachi was twelve. Itachi sat on the floor and put his sandals on.
Itachi turns around slightly to look at his younger brother. Sasuke stood shyly, his arms behind his back.
"Can we train with Shuriken today …? You said you would," Sasuke said hesitantly.
"I'm busy today…you should ask father." Sasuke noted that this time, there's no trace of a smile on his face. Itachi had been acting strange ever since they were told about Shisui's suicide. And that strange Sharingan…
"But, your way of throwing them is best. I'm a kid, but even I know that." 'And father wouldn't teach me anyway. I'm not you Nii-san.' Sasuke adds silently.
Itachi is silent and Sasuke feels his spirits drop another inch lower.
"You always act as if I am a burden to you…"
Itachi turns even more, so that he's completely facing Sasuke, and beckons Sasuke to him. Sasuke steps forward, only to, once again, have his forehead poked.
"Forgive me Sasuke. Next time, okay?"
Sasuke frowned. Suddenly, Itachi stood up and walked towards the door.
"…I don't have time to take care of you today."
Somehow, this unemotional brush-off hurt Sasuke a hundred times worse than the poke had. Still, he raised one hand to rub his forehead.
"Always saying 'Forgive me, Sasuke', then poking me on the head. Then saying 'Next time'; I never see it."
Itachi left the house without looking back.
Still, Sasuke couldn't help the slight smile spreading over his face.
'That was good…yes, it was just like the old Itachi.'
Sasuke's gaze fell onto the cracked clan symbol on the wall that Itachi had caused only a few days ago and his smile faded into a frown.
Now Sasuke was fifteen while Itachi was twenty.
Sasuke watched, terrified, as Itachi crossed the last few metres that were between them. He couldn't back away, a wall was stopping him. Their fight was over, Itachi would win. They were both hurt, but Itachi could still move.
The older raised his hand. They were aiming for Sasuke's eyes. Itachi's mouth opened and his lips moved slightly, but there was no sound. Sasuke could see the slight smile forming on his brother's face.
The fingers were only millimetres away from Sasuke's eyes. But suddenly…
The fingers touched his forehead before sliding down Sasuke's cheek. Sasuke's eyes widened at the implication.
Itachi was smiling, his eyes closed.
"I'm sorry Sasuke"
"There won't be a next time"
Itachi staggered slightly before falling against the wall and to the ground.
Rain started falling down from the grey clouds.
Sasuke stared, the realization of what happened sinking in. Itachi was dead; the moment he had been waiting, training, longing for…but still…
Sasuke could almost hear the voice again that he had heard so often, younger and more carefree than ever.
"Forgive me, Sasuke"
The voice seemed to be blown away by the wind.
The blood still on his face dripped down, falling onto the ground. Tears came slowly, then more followed, mixing with the blood and the rain. Sasuke squeezed his eyes shut.
The sun had been shining when his clan was buried.
"Forgive me, Sasuke"
Lightning flashed over the sky as a small, melancholy smile appeared on his face. Sasuke fell down next to his brother, both of their faces turned towards the sky. He feels seven-years old again, when his brother seemed to be all around him and yet so far away.
'I don't understand yet Nii-san, but I have a feeling I will soon. It's just…'
'…I wish you could have told me sooner…'
"Forgive me, Sasuke"
Sasuke saw Itachi's smiling face before him before his world turned black.
'…Because as you said…there won't be a next time"
"Forgive me, Sasuke"
"No…Forgive me, Nii-san. I'm sorry."
For the people that think that Sasuke is a bit OOC at the end…I imagined that, well, it's the part of Sasuke that always loved and admired Itachi that's showing through at the end.
The last few chapters of the manga had me crying slightly. All that stuff that Madara revealed about Itachi…
Please review and tell me what you thought about it, okay?