The rain was pouring and lightning flashed through the sky, illuminating the Uchiha complex in blue light before leaving it cold and dark again. The power was out, and Mikoto and Fugaku were at a neighbor's house, discussing family matters. Itachi leaned against the fusuma, staring as the street became muddy and cold rainwater pooled in the ruts. Behind him, there was a whimper of fear as thunder clapped overhead.

"It's just nature, Sasuke. There's nothing to fear." Itachi called over his shoulder softly at his little brother. He looked back at the trembling form of Sasuke, sitting on a tatami mat near a table. He had been drawing, but now abandoned the activity because he was paralyzed with terror.

"I don't like it." Sasuke proclaimed, eying the weather outside and holding his chin up proudly. He was so opinionated, he tried so hard to be confident in his convictions. Itachi's will buckled. It always did. It always would.

"Come outside. You'll like it." Itachi said gently. He stepped out onto the porch. "look!" He called, and hopped off onto the muddy ground, splashing mud everywhere. Sasuke crept suspiciously out, and stuck a tiny hand out from under the protection of the porch. He studied his wet hand, and then stuck his other hand out. "It's not even cold." Itachi said, holding out his arms as the rain soaked him through and through. He leaned his head back and stuck out his tongue, earning a laugh from Sasuke. That noise... it did something to him. It made his heart swell, his eyes tear, and his mouth turn irresistibly into a smile, a wide, toothy smile. He was elated. There was nothing else as good in the world as Sasuke's laugh: so clear, fresh, loud, honest. No one had a laugh like that.

Sasuke moved to jump down, but Itachi turned and pointed to his back. "Hop on!"

Sasuke, even as a five year old, was beginning to move with coordination. Itachi beamed with pride that was a little, just a little, tinged with sadness. Someday...

He wouldn't think about it. Those thoughts were for tomorrow, and for the infinite days to comeā€”for now...

Sasuke threw his arms around Itachi's neck and laughed again as Itachi took off at a run, splashing through puddles and running in circles, jumping up onto roofs and trees. All the while, he thought, 'nothing can ever be good like this again. I will never have this, ever again.' He should have forgotten tomorrow and enjoyed the present, but the melancholy thoughts were nailed to the forefront of his mind.

The rain calmed his eyes that ached from sharingan and withheld tears, and Sasuke's laughter ringing throughout the downpour calmed his soul. His life didn't matter...it was Sasuke's that did. Sasuke was perfect and so complex and yet so simple and clean, he was a drawing of many detailed and careful bold clean lines, he was a revelation of true love, he was happy.

"Look at you idiots." Mikoto's voice floated from the neighbor's porch, and Itachi turned to see his mother standing there, her arms folded across her chest, as she gazed down at the two brothers. "You'll get struck by lightning!" She scolded. Sasuke shook his head fiercely.

"Nuh-uh, aniki said that it's just nature. There's nothing to fear!" He said proudly. Itachi smiled weakly at his mother as she gave him a withering glance.

"Just come back inside."


Whenever Sasuke feels the rain on his back, he feels at peace. His muscles relax, he exhales, his eyes open, and he leans his head back, remembering. Instead of his usual turbulence of heart, those thoughts settle like feathers at the pit of his stomach, and he lifts his hands, little by little, until he stands like Itachi did, arms out, palms up, accepting the weather.

His life does not matter. He will never be set free. He is nailed to a cross, a sacrificial animal, of the Uchiha clan. Of Itachi. His life does not matter, but Itachi's does. It always did, it always will.