Alta Marea

by stones


i.

Uchiha Itachi is dead long before he even gets the chance to live.

He is a stubborn baby and causes his mother much pain as she grits her teeth and hisses, pushing for something harder than she had ever before. She wants this, needs this. Perhaps her new infant, a new part of her life, a new thing that she can mold, will bring her happiness, something that she had misplaced some time ago.

But she cannot even hold her own son when it is over. Her body, weak-- always too weak--, can only lay limp as each muscle pulses, and she dreams that night of her skin tearing apart. A tear and a gush-- her insides embarrass her.

She finally wakes and opens her eyes to her husband holding her child, no their child, awkwardly in his arms. And she glares, because she knows he has gotten to him first. It is a losing battle. If only she had been stronger.

"What's with the face?" her husband asks her as he rocks the small baby in his arms, maybe too harshly because the baby starts to whine.

"I'm just happy," she replies with a smile, one her husband should have known to be fake.

He just grunts and nods and looks back to the baby. "As expected."

When Mikoto finally holds her baby, he seems to just mold into her arms, as if he was meant to be there. And she thinks that he is, because he is her baby, and always will be. Her husband stares at her as she hums to the small child, perhaps trying to observe and conclude if Mikoto is a good mother, as he had expected. She tries to ignore him because this is a moment for her and her baby. Her infant is a part of her. She had lost enough of herself to the man standing beside her. She will fight for this one.

"Should we discuss names?" she suggests, lightly grazing her finger over the few strands hair on his tiny head. They are so light, so very fragile, that they flutter about with the tiniest of breaths.

"Don't fill your mind with useless hope," Fugaku grunts next to her, crossing his arms as he continues to look at his family. "I thought I had made myself clear."

She looks at him for only a second, determined to see how mad her husband looks. Perhaps if his face is at least a little relaxed, she can argue with him, if only just to cause him trouble. But his eyes are harsh as he looks into her own. She would love to tell him that seeing a weasel kill a snake on the day they had found out she was pregnant was not a sign-- not a good enough reason to stick their son with that name.

"Itachi," she says, trying it out on her lips. The baby does not move.

"He doesn't cry," her husband points out.

Carefully, she tries to pick out the right words. "He's quiet." They turn out to be satisfactory.

"He's strong," he corrects, taking the clean words and making them something dirty.

"As expected," she hums, uninterested.

There is nothing more than expectations. Perhaps there was never anything more.

ii.

The first memory he has of his mother is when he is little. Well, he thinks he is.

The memory is vague, blurry. But he knows his mother and father are both there, but he can only stare at his mother's soft face as it glows in the light of the room. Her hair is messily put up in a low pony tail, but the few pieces sneaking out of the elastic's hold frame her face lightly and he feels his hands move up to grab at them. And they are fine, so very fine and soft, just like his will be one day.

He hears his father's voice and his mother coos at him as she cups some bath water and splashes it over his stomach. The water is cold, he remembers. Cold, but he doesn't mind. Then he sees someone crouch beside his mother-- his father he recognizes. He is close to his mother, their shoulders touching, and his father joins his mother in looking down at their child. He brings them together.

And Uchiha Itachi feels comfortable.

Later when his partner asks him how he can stand bathing in the freezing river, Uchiha Itachi will remember this.

iii.

Every time Uchiha Itachi falls, he picks himself back up.

Young Itachi falls on his butt after following his mother around the house, grabbing at the bottom of her skirt whenever he can. She, being in such a frenzy to tidy up the house before Father gets home, brushes his hand off and mumbles for him to leave her be. There is work to be done and he is doing nothing to help. He continues to follow her, however, keeping close to her feet. She turns around so quickly that he is pushed over and down he goes. He lands on the ground with a thump.

There is a large frown on his face, eyebrows titled sadly. His mother stops and crouches down, her face soft as she scans his face.

"Did you fall?" she asks, though they both know the answer. They hear his father enter the house, door sliding roughly. Mikoto doesn't even glance up. Itachi nods to his mother as he slowly stands on wobbly legs and his father enters the room from behind. Mikoto straightens up only slightly, fanning her fingers over her skirt to straighten out the wrinkles. The frown is still on Itachi's face and his lower lip quivers slightly as he rubs his sore bottom. "Did you fall on your butt?" she asks again.

He nods again, the sad frown slowly but surely turning into a mischievous grin. He shifts on his feet playfully and Mikoto smiles. From his crooked lips, he says, "Do you want to kiss it?"

Mikoto laughs, placing a delicate hand to her mouth and Itachi can't help but giggle himself. Fugaku speaks from the other end of the kitchen. Mother and son direct their attention to him.

"Stop that, Itachi," he demands, hands crossed as he inspects the scene before him. "Don't make stupid comments like that."

Mikoto suppresses her giggles, hand falling from her thin lips. Fugaku leaves the room, telling his wife to clean the house. "I've never seen such a mess and lack of discipline," are his parting words.

Itachi doesn't mention that she has been cleaning all day. Itachi doesn't mention that the dirt on the floor is from his tiny feet trotting along after playing in the mud outside. Itachi doesn't mention that his mother tried. But Itachi vows never to say anything so childish again.

Even though he is a child, he's simply not allowed to be.

iv.

Uchiha Itachi has never been scared of thunderstorms, but sometimes he pretends for his mother.

He has recently been transferred into a bed, a big boy bed as his mother likes to call it. It's the first storm that sweeps through when he is in his new bed, and he just sits as the thunder cracks outside, giving a warning to the world--one that will never be heeded. Perhaps because it is too loud, or perhaps people just do not care, no one listens to the thunder. But Itachi does.

He is not really surprised when his door cracks open and he sees his mother's pale hands grip the side of the door. Immediately he wants to smile and he manages to wear a crooked grin as she tip-toes in, the floor under her creaking as she makes her way to his bed. He figures she was never a good ninja, but loves her still.

"Itachi," she whispers when she is close, and she smiles down at him. He lifts his tired arms to her, welcoming her.

She lifts the blanket and snuggles herself next to him. As she does this, he makes room and pushes himself into her, taking a deep breath as he rubs his face into her body.

"Don't be scared," she tells him as she rests her head on his, lips against the side of his head. She kisses lightly and sighs, her warm breath tickling Itachi's ear. It isn't an annoying tickle, or one that would even make him want laugh. It is a reminder.

He knows that she is just trying to play her role as a mother, though sometimes they all know she is meant to be the child. Her eyes search the dark room with quick jerks and she listens for the thunder, only to blink and twitch when it sounds.

"Don't be scared," he tells her, using her own words. She just laughs sadly and looks down on him, fingers loosening their hold on his wrist and he wonders why he didn't notice her tight hold before. Because she is letting go, he holds on, and he tries to wrap his small arms around her body, but she just pushes them away. She shakes her head and he is sure that if it wasn't dark, he'd be able to see her eyes, glazed with moisture. With sorrow. With weakness. With beauty.

"Don't be scared," he repeats, his words of comfort seemingly cold. "It's only a storm."

She breaths deeply and he can tell that her nose is stuffy.

"I'm not," she assures him, giving him a playful nudge as her voice cracks. Her hands rub against her face before she moves to hold him again, and this time he waits until her breathing is long and even, and her nose sounds clear.

"Father is home?" he asks quietly as it thunders again. His mother tenses for a moment, and he doesn't whether it is because the loud noise hits her ear drums hard or the mention of his father puts her guard up when she had just let it down. Either makes sense, he thinks.

"Hn," she hums, kissing him on the head again. "He told me not too be long. You know how he hates this." She pauses. "Let's not waste any time." She starts to hum.

The sound if so soft and the storm has faded to a light drizzle. Her hold is so tight and the bed is so warm. His eyes close of their own accord and he allows himself to fall asleep.

In the morning when he wakes, and the bed is cold and his mother is gone, he will be angry with himself.

There is no time to waste. It would be wise to make it last.

One day it will all be gone.

v.

He thinks that things will make sense as he grows older.

"Itachi," his father starts with a grunt, and Itachi gets ready to hold his head down, gets ready for a scolding. But there is a long pause and Itachi has to raise his head to look at his father, making sure that everything is okay. When he does this, he sees his father's lips twitching, before he turns to look at his son fully.

"You shouldn't live in regret," he tells his son. "But more importantly, you have to do what you have to do."

Itachi memorizes this.

"Duty before happiness," he continues. "Needs before wants." He looks away, his face blank. "And in time, you'll see that duty brings joy, and that happiness is only temporary when caused by selfishness, by desire."

Itachi's young mind thinks these words are too big.

"Understand?" his father asks, finally finishing.

Itachi shakes his head.

His father just flashes a lopsided grin as he puts his hand above Itachi's head and teasingly ruffles his hair. They both pick themselves off of the grass.

"You will one day."

Fugaku wipes off his pants and they both start down the path that winds around the lake and will eventually take them home. Itachi walks by his father's side, a stick that he had picked up on the way in his hand.

"You like the lake?" his father asks after noticing his son is tripping over his feet because he will not peel his eyes from it. Itachi nods his head and Fugaku continues. "Why?"

"Don't you see them?" Itachi asks, his eyes widening. He points out to the lake with his stick. "There are spirits."

They eventually make it home where Itachi's mother greets them with warm tea. Itachi swirls his cup and looks down at the tea, but thinks of the lake.

One day they will swim together.

vi.

Contrary to popular belief, Uchiha Itachi does feel.

He feels proud of himself when his father gives him a his first kunai, though he's not sure what this is really supposed to mean. He feels like he should brag, never boast. So when his mother asks him what he did that day, he shows her but doesn't tell her because that wouldn't be right. He knows she's happy for him all the same.

He feels like a son when he learns that technique--the technique that lights up the sky and sets his veins in flames, that technique that is more than just a technique. It is a stepping stone, a way of life. And he feels this when his father smiles at him, his lips curving just slightly more than they ever had before. And he feels this when him and his father walk back, his father's hand in his shoulder.

He feels distraught when he watches someone kill another. The man who kills shows no regret, no remorse, as the man underneath him, drowning in his own blood gasps for air, for the only thing that connects him to this life.

He feels protective as his family eats dinner at night. He watches as his mother smiles at his father. He observes as his father smile, for he does rarely laugh, when his mother tells him something funny that had happened that day. Later, he feels like a martyr when he watches his father and mother sit by his mother's garden. And they watch him watch them. And it is peaceful. And he doesn't understand it.

He feels hollow when his little infant of a brother will be sleeping in bed, and Itachi will be out in the world, killing his first man. The man opens his eyes wide as blood dribbles down his chin. He's beautiful, Itachi thinks. Once strong, so blatantly acting the part until it is reduced into what everyone really is. Weak, frail. Slowly the man drops to his knees, Itachi having to only bend slightly to keep eye-level. One mustn't forget that he is only a child--something the village, his family, the world seems to conveniently forget.

The man coughs and his lips twitch into a grin. He places a hand over Itachi's and twists the kunai Itachi's father had given him, only to make himself cringe.

"I have a daughter," he breaths as he falls back onto his butt. Itachi's breath does not even falter as the man falls back, and Itachi lets go of the knife, letting the man fall by himself. "You two must be the same age."

If this is supposed to affect him, it doesn't.

"She would be ashamed," the man continues, "of her old man."

But that does.

"No," Itachi tells him when the man finally dies, when his eyes lose their glow, when his lips hang, when his head rolls lifelessly and his body hangs limply as Itachi grips his kunai and pulls it from the man's body. It is a tight squeeze. It almost does not want to leave.

He doesn't care if that man had a daughter, but he cares that that girl had a father. She wouldn't--isn't ashamed, he knows it. He feels guilty as he washes his kunai when he arrives home. Not caring to spare it a glance ever again, he throws it to the bottom of his drawer.

He watches his parents, sitting silently in the dark.

Don't they know about this thing called Death? Don't they know that they could be taken away from him? Do they not know?

He hopes they don't. He doesn't want them to.

He will protect them from this, no matter what it takes.

vii.

Uchiha Itachi doesn't understand the concept of siblings. Really.

When his father tells him, quite unemotionally, that there is a baby on its way, Itachi doesn't really care. Instead, he looks to his mother, standing dutifully next to his father. Her face is brighter, and her smile matches the one that she wears when she holds him. The happiness is unnecessary, he thinks. It's just a baby, just another cycle. With any luck, the baby will grow to be strong, and he might give Itachi a good fight, making training alone a thing of the past. If the baby is not productive, it is not needed.

His father must think so too, because his face does not change into the soft smile that his mother wears. He only grunts when his mother talks about the new-coming baby, hoping for a girl. And Uchiha Itachi thinks that his mother is a girl, and it wouldn't be so bad having another one around. His father doesn't care about the gender. He just looks down at his son, and Itachi feels his muscles clench, because he is all his father needs, all the clan needs.

His mother smiles when she comes back from the doctor. It's going to be a boy. She doesn't think he notices when she starts to braid his short hair. He pushes her hand away and she only pulls back, smile still there.

"It's going to be a boy," she whispers to him. His hand reaches up and fingers touch the corners of her mouth. Slowly he pushes her lips down into a straight line.

"Don't smile if you don't want to."

Whatever is coming is changing everything. His family is simply not his family anymore. His mother eats more, he notices. It is disgusting and unlike her. He can only glare. His father becomes even more angry with him, his mother, with the world. When his mother cries, he only prods it further, cutting her with sarcastic comments. Even when Itachi moves to his mother, to perhaps comfort her, his father grabs him by the collar and pushes him away, telling him to leave her alone.

"She only wants the attention," he tells his son.

And Itachi thinks that that's okay. He only wants to give it to her.

Itachi has to admit when he sees his mother's stomach changing everyday, when he sees that parasite finally growing, he finally gets nervous. She has her arm around him, because she can't hold him close, and Itachi is disgusted at her large stomach, separating them. She smiles and grabs his wrist, slowly bringing his hand to lay it on her stomach. Itachi does not pull away, partly because he is interested at what has just softly nudged his hand.

"Do you feel him?" his mother asks, running a hand through his hair. "He's coming."

"Mother, I'll save you," he says in all seriousness.

"From what?" she asks with a smile, a confused smile.

Itachi can only take his hand from his mother's stomach. She tries to pull him back to her, but he pushes himself away from her, hands in a fist against her stomach. Instinctively she lets go of him and puts her arms around her stomach, protecting her son, her future. And Itachi steps away from her, saying, "From everything."

He cannot save himself.

One day he will save her.

One day he will save them all.

viii.

He wakes up in the middle of the night when he hears a scream.

Even though he is in a tired daze, his eyes are wide, and he is focusing, listening. When he hears the scream after a while, it is in such a great contrast to the silence, to the darkness, that his skin tingles with an eerie feeling, but there is no time to waste. The scream is followed by a loud groan. And the first thing he can think about is his mother.

Quickly, the fastest he has ever moved he is sure, he runs to where the screams and groans are coming from. No thoughts go through his head because it feels frozen, heavy. He quickly stops outside of the living room and mentally prepares himself for whatever horror lays ahead. There comes a thought that he should have brought a weapon, anything. Then he thinks about his father and where he is, what he's doing, if he's dead, if his mother is next.

He only thinks about it for a few seconds and he will not linger on it. Pushing himself into the room, he sees his father first. His eyes quickly scan the room and he sees his mother, clutching her stomach. Her hair is sweaty and matted. There are dark circles under her eyes and she grits her teeth as she breaths sharply. Uchiha Itachi pauses because he does not know who this monster is.

His father is silently grabbing a few things and he looks at Itachi, his eyes lingering on him. His mother gets quiet again, but bites her bottom lip.

"We need to hurry," she hisses.

"Itachi," his father starts, but he does not look at him. He looks at his mother, at the bead of sweat rolling down her forehead. "Itachi."

This time his father's stern voice makes him turn his head to him.

"Stay here," he instructs him.

Itachi wants to tell him he won't. Something is happening to his mother. He needs to do something, but he continues to listen, because his father looks like he is thinking about what to say. And Itachi always listens.

"I'll send someone to get you and bring you to the hospital," he concludes.

"Can they fix her?" he asks quickly as he listens to his mother's strange breathing.

"I wish," Fugaku grunts quietly to himself, though Itachi hears. "You're little brother will be here soon."

When he hears this, he freezes. As soon as they leave, he runs into his room.

He has to prepare.

One day he'll be ready for anything.

ix.

His father tells him he will be a good older brother.

Uchiha Itachi tries not to look worried when he is told this. It is just another thing he must to. He does not know how to be one, or even what an older brother is, but he knows he will study it, practice it, and perfect it. If all else fails, he will redefine it. He tries to look at it, but every time he tries to see over the tall bed, his mother cuddles the baby closer.

She sings songs to the thing, the thing that cannot even open its eyes to see her beauty, her kindness. The thing that cannot even adore her. When she kisses it on the forehead, it begins to whine. Itachi wants to hurt it for it's rudeness, for it's blatant disregard for his mother's feelings.

Itachi grips the blanket and begins to lift himself up, but is stopped with his mother's voice. It is raspy, tired, and ugly, he thinks.

"Stop misbehaving," she scolds him. He lets go of the blanket and backs away from the bed, wanting to say something, but wanting her to know without him having to tell her. "You're probably tired."

He wants to tell her he's not. He's not even acting out.

"It's really late," she continues. He doesn't want to go to sleep, not in the slightest way, but he knows she wants him to, and he thinks he'll do it for her. Slowly, he moves to the uncomfortable, stiff looking chair pressed up against the wall. His mother starts singing to the baby--not him-- the baby, and Itachi decides that this is his, so he listens to her soft hum.

And soon, very soon, he lets his eyes close. He is taken back to a time where his mother held him and his father smiled at him.

One day he will get it back.

One day they will go back to yesterday.

x.

Uchiha Itachi determines living with a younger brother might be harder than he expected.

When he comes home with his mother from the hospital, he does not stop crying. Day and night Itachi can hear his screams and Itachi begins to think that they will drive him crazy. Even in his mother's garden where there is a small pond that he used to find quite smoothing does nothing against the piercing cries of his little brother, who Itachi refers to as the demon child.

"Itachi," his mother sings from the living room. He grips the peach in his hand and peaks into the room, noticing his mother sitting in a chair with a bundle of blankets in her arms. "Come."

He drops the peach at this and his lips tickle, tempted to smile. Quickly, he enters and crosses the room until he is standing before her. As a child, he would have just jumped into her arms and snuggled his head into her chest. But now, he shyly waits before her to bring her to him and wrap those warm blankets around him. As he waits, she bends down and he smiles.

But there is a pause when she opens her arms and the blankets to show a little, peach colored head. Itachi's smile dies as he looks down at the thing.

He thinks it's cute. For a monkey. His face is pink and his eyes look swollen, demented. There is something wet and sticky around its face. Its lips quiver like it is cold.

"This is your little brother," she tells him, finally opening this part of her life to him. He does not know whether to welcome or reject it. "You have to take care of him now. Understand, Itachi?"

Itachi doesn't answer her because only his father is allowed to talk to him like that. Who is his mother to give him orders? He looks up at her, the tired lines on her face, the ugly, sleepy bags under her eyes.

"Itachi," she cooes softly, pulling her arm from under the thing--his little brother-- to reach out for Itachi. But he pulls back.

"Mother, I love you," he tells her, and prepares himself for her soft lips against his forehead, her wide eyes even larger with adoration toward her son. Instead, her cracked lips form words that will never be heard, and her eyes, swollen with lack of sleep narrow disgustingly. She pauses and tilts her head, her hair falling over her shoulder. The ends of the strands tickle the baby's face, causing him to wake up and whimper. His mother immediately puts her hand back under the roll of blankets to pat the infant gently.

Itachi watches only for a moment before the baby's whimpers escalate to a scream. He steps back and turns away. The site is ugly. He does not wish to see it.

He finds his father coming into the house, leaving his shoes on the designated matt. He glances up at Itachi and cracks an amused smile.

"Hasn't shut up yet?" he asks, stepping closer.

Itachi shakes his head. His father's smile widens as he walks past his son, and ruffles his hair with one hand.

"Heaven help us all," he grumbles, disappearing into the house.

Uchiha Itachi thinks heaven cannot help. This problem is far to big.

Though he is not heaven sent, he will fix this.

One day he will set everything alright.

xi.

He learns quickly that people forget others.

One day as he walks passed the living room, he sees his mother with his baby brother and he stops to observe. He is laid out on the couch and his mother has his tiny feet in her hand and she wiggles them around as Sasuke smiles. Itachi stares at the smile that his mother is wearing. Her white teeth show and her lips curve dramatically. Itachi's stare hardens as he looks at Sasuke on the couch, the recipient of all this happiness.

His mother begins to tickle Sasuke's bloated baby belly and she rubs her nose on his tiny little one. She scrunches her lips together so that Itachi thinks she looks like a fish and she takes a deep breath and starts to talk in a language Itachi cannot understand. He guesses that it is only made for his mother and brother.

"Coochie, coochie, coo," she sings as she continues to tickle his stomach. Sasuke begins to giggle madly and pounds his tiny, chubby fists up and down. His mother, he sees, looks so happy as she talks to his younger brother and Sasuke giggles like mad, reaching for their mother's dark strands of hair with his tiny hands.

And Itachi leaves the house, thinking that if he doesn't belong, he might as well do something he is made for. He decides he will go train and leave his mother and brother to their happiness. Their little games. Itachi guesses, that maybe, he doesn't need that.

As he walks down the hallway, Itachi tries one last time.

"Coochie, coochie, coo," he mumbles to himself.

And as he hears Sasuke's and his mother's laugh from inside the house, he does not know why but he still can't understand what is so funny. The feeling inside of him tells him he feels incompetent and plainly stupid.

One day he hopes he'll be the one laughing.

xii.

Uchiha Itachi knows that it is important to observe.

His little brother is an idiot, he thinks. He scopes him out in the garden, trying to determine whether or not this child will be worth anything. Itachi can spot it a mile away, but his little brother is making it difficult. Itachi is not sure whether the baby is playing dumb, or if he is really that challenged.

He stands up on his pudgy legs, wobbles, and runs. But Itachi already knows what will happen. The baby will fall. The baby, apparently, doesn't understand that. Again and again, Itachi grabs his hand and hoists the baby up, thinking it's quite annoying that he keeps falling. But he goes, again and again.

And Uchiha Itachi picks him up again and again.

One day he'll take him down.

xiii.

He finds it interesting to talk sometimes. Sometimes.

But when he finds that person he deems worthy of talking to, he prefers to listen to her talk, and he will stab in a quick word or two when needed. Her hands are soft since they are still young, but she already has wrinkles on her fingers. They are spreading so he takes whatever she is carrying to hold for her as they walk side by side, her voice filling the spring air.

"Aren't you scared?" she asks him once after he tells her quickly about his last mission. The water in the bucket he is carrying does not even budge.

"No," he answers simply, glancing at her, knowing there was supposed to be a small grin, but it did not show.

"I'm scared," she continued. "For you."

They continue to walk along the path, their sandals scraping against the pavement. She continues to look at him, scanning him, and he lets her because really, he doesn't mind. He keeps his eyes straight and they are half-lidded, lazy, as the sun beats down on them both.

"Don't be afraid," he tells her once they reach the small, dull fence surrounding her home.

"You scare me," she says with a sad laugh.

He pauses. He has heard this before, jokingly and not, but the words sound different coming from her. "I do?"

She opens the gate for them both and they step into her yard, the grass growing wildly. The gate slams behind them.

"You are so comfortable with death," she says, swaying as she walks. "It makes me wonder what the world is coming to."

"You think I'm a monster?" he asks as he pauses, and she stops to shake her head at him.

"They want you to be one."

They reach her front door and she straightens out her dull looking clothing, standing mediocre next to him. There is the light sound of bugs buzzing in the hot air around them.

"I won't be," he tells her.

"Not if you let them."

He stands in front of her and she awkwardly takes the bucket from him. There is no movement on his part as he stares down at the girl. She just smiles back at him, perhaps used to his strange mannerisms.

"Thank you," she says softly, wrapping the bucket of water with her two arms to hold tightly against her, a few splashes of water wetting her blouse. He gives her a short nod.

"You know," she starts, and he is already ready to listen, "after this--" she looks to her yard, her worn fence, the wild, unkempt grass "--I want to get away."

He doesn't tell her that she most likely will not. The odds point that her family, the village, will forever bind her to this place, forever keep her in misery. He doesn't tell her that because he hears her tell him of a far away place, one with waterfalls and purple sunsets. He hears her tell him about a beautiful house, dark cherry wood floors welcoming every delicate step. He hears her tell him about paradise, and he doesn't want to take that away from her.

Let her dream, he thinks.

One day they will be old. One day they will die. One day there will be no more time left to dream.

"Don't be afraid," he tells her again, bringing a hand up to rest on her shoulder and she tilts her head to graze her chin along his pale hand. He retreats his hand as she smiles.

"I'm not."

He turns and leaves her and for a moment she can only stand and look at this epoch, this one thing in her life that will cause change. He walks with style and grace, he walks with danger and safety. He was born to start the turn of a century. She is not scared.

But the water in the bucket is shaking.

xiv.

He is always interested.

Especially when his mother sits him down on the couch and she brings out an album, to show him a younger version of himself. He isn't interested it that. He looks small, pathetic, weak. He looks like Sasuke. Instead he looks at pictures of his father-- his straight posture and smile that he is trying to hide. There is a women under his arm, and he realizes that this girl is not his mother. They hold each other tightly.

He sees one of his mother, of her arms spread open wide like they are waiting to hold him, like she is just waiting for him in her arms. Her smile is wide, wider than he has ever seen before. He thinks he is smiling as he looks at the picture.

"Strange, isn't it?" she asks him. "How much people change?"

And he doesn't know if she means physically, but he doesn't think so. He puts a finger over the picture, over her hair. He thinks it would feel soft, just like it does now. They are both startled by a thump that sounds deep into the house.

Immediately his mother is up. Quickly. Quicker than he had ever seen before. She gasps, "Sasuke." He is left watching her retreating back.

"Strange," he whispers to himself, looking back down at the picture of his young mother.

When she is back, the album is already closed and he is already standing. She smiles at him as she moves forward.

"Itachi," she laughs. "It was only Sasuke. He was trying to get out of his crib, but thankfully it was only…" Her voice trails off as he walks toward her.

"I'm tired," he simply tells her before handing her the album. He leaves the room and she puts the pictures away, already smiling at the thought of showing them to her younger son.

Uchiha Itachi thinks of the picture in his head.

One day his mother will smile like that again.

xv.

Boys will be boys is something his mother always says.

His mother, he believes, always speaks the truth.

One day he finds himself with Shisui, content with sitting with him after they practice throwing shiruken. Well, Shisui says he doesn't need the practice, and Itachi doesn't say anything, but he thinks he does. Shisui watches enviously as Itachi pulls out his lunch, supplied by his mother, while he pulls out his own sandwhich, made by him himself.

"Shisui," Itachi calls to him.

He grunts and lifts his head to look at the boy. "Hn?"

"Extra water?"

"Backpack."

Itachi crawls over to the bag and opens it. He sees an extra canteen of water instantly, but the other things interest him. He pushes away Shisui's kunais and weapons to look at his possessions. A pack of gum, socks, and a small book. Interested, he grabs the book and it falls open. He stares at the picture, confused.

"Hey, hey," he hears Shisui say behind him as he comes toward Itachi on all fours. He reaches around Itachi, his back against his, to grab the book and softly he pulls it away from Itachi. "That's not for you."

"What is that?"

"It's not mine," his cousin says. He gives a lopsided grin to Itachi before holding out the book and flipping it open. It lands on the same page Itachi had seen before. "Someone gave it to me."

"Why?"

"Why?" Shisui asks with a laugh, then he shrugs. "I guess you're too young."

"For what?"

"Don't you ever think about women?"

"Women?" Itachi repeats quietly. Women? "Like Mother?"

"Ew," Shisui hisses with disgust. "No. Women you would like to have sex with."

Itachi shakes his head. He had never given it much thought really, but the image of the girl standing with a bucket flashes before his eyes. Shisui huffs and sticks the picture in front of his face again. The woman's hair is messy and scattered. Itachi thinks it's ugly. Her legs are propped open, showing large thighs. Her chest is bloated, he realizes. Her waist narrows, but then her hips jut out.

"I want to have sex with women like this?" Itachi asks.

"Why wouldn't you?" Shisui counters.

Why would he, Itachi thinks, but does not say.

There is a lot he would like to, but does not have the chance say.

One day everything that needs to be said, will be said, and this will be done without even opening his mouth.

xvi.

Uchiha Itachi does not like anything that isn't smooth.

He likes knives, he likes the floors that his mother shines, he likes porcelain skin. He doesn't like anything that appears to be dirty or infested with fleas and ticks. He does not like animals. Specifically cats. He glares at his brother, and his mother's generosity. But he knows his father will not stand for this and he is glad. He watches his mother become upset about the cat and watches his father lay down the law. And he is happy when the dreadful thing is gone the next day.

He is even happier when he hears Sasuke cry.

xvii.

Everything grows. This Uchiha Itachi knows.

His brother is no longer a martian or a young brat. He is growing. Quickly. It is a challenge to keep this boy happy, Itachi notices, and in all honestly, he thinks it is a waste of time. He wants too much of his father's approval and Itachi's attention. His eyes only seem content around their mother, and Itachi thinks that this makes sense. She has a way with that.

His little brother asks one day to see the first kunai his father had given him and honestly, Itachi had forgotten about it completely. But he recalls that it is at the bottom of his drawer and he opens it, staring down into the deep drawer, into the pit of hell. He holds the kunai in his hand and it feels so comfortable, so familiar. He is brought into a different place, a different time, until his brother jumps at his back, pushing him forward annoyingly.

Wordlessly, he holds it over his shoulder and Sasuke takes it happily, sloppily, and Itachi feels the blade trace the skin on his neck.

One day he thinks as he eyes scan, but don't read, the scroll in front of him. Even the wall, at the moment seems more interesting. Curiously, he turns his head to look at his younger brother and is surprised at what he sees. His kunai is lodged in his palm and there is a long streak of red crawling down the youth's pale arm, dripping onto his clean sheets. Itachi is stunned for a moment and he doesn't know if it is because the kid is obviously dumb or because the sight is breathtaking.

He stands softly and walks to the bed, his eyes on the bloody kunai, focusing intensely, much like his younger brother. He puts his hand over Sasuke's and slowly, together, they pull it out from Sasuke's hand. Later, Itachi decides to clean it. He thinks of the first man he had killed. He thinks of Sasuke. He thinks that this kunai is the man's. Sasuke's blood is not deserving of the silvery glint of the blade, of all the sweat Itachi had poured into this one little knife.

At night he can hear the man groan, he can see the man's face, he listens to the distinct tears of flesh, to his mothers screams. He can imagine the kunai at the bottom of the drawer. He can hear his brother breathing in the room next door. It does not give him peace.

His mother barely speaks to him. She greets him kindly and wishes him luck for missions, but she does not let her eyes linger on him anymore. She does not graze his cheeks with her delicate hands. She does this for Sasuke, and Itachi doesn't know why. Itachi, having seen this in movies, sneaks to his mother's garden and pulls tulips, her favorites. Before morning, when his father is already out of bed and his mother is peacefully sleeping, like an angel he thinks, he puts the tulip on her nightstand. She never says anything to him about it.

His father is angry. As usual. Slowly he begins to break away from Itachi. And Itachi later thinks this is unfair when he hears the rumors. He was not the one who had left them. Don't you see? They had left him. Training with father and son becomes a thing of the past. Instead, he boasts about Itachi to the clan, and Itachi lets him because he knows it makes his father feel good about himself. But when they pass each other, his father pretends like he is not there, but Itachi knows his father is there and he knows he is ignoring him. And that would have hurt if Itachi had not already trained himself to avoid things like this.

He watches his mother in the morning, when she is preparing breakfast and he is sitting at the table. Her legs are slim, smooth looking like butter, as she shifts her weight from foot to foot, trying to make sure he legs don't fall asleep. As she does this, her hips swing back and forth and he stares. Not necessarily at her body, but at memories. Of her shaking hips when she held him when he was younger and she would dance around the room slowly. He catches glimpses of her chest, her chest that he used to lay his head against just to hear her beautiful, beating heart. He sees her lips, the lips that use to shower him with affection, her cheeks and soft skin, skin that used to pet his own. He watches her hair, her hair and scent that he finds himself wanting to breath in.

And he is such in a peaceful state that he doesn't even notice his brother until he speaks.

"Bitch."

And Itachi's head snaps to the side, angry. His brother, this monster, this thing, is really pushing it. And he turns to his mother when he hears her hiss, noticing she had burnt herself. She runs from the room, pushing his little brother in the process. Good, Itachi thinks. His mother will not stand for this. Itachi deposits his plate in the sink and follows his mothers soft whimpers.

He finds her in her garden. Even the koi fish in the pond seem perplexed by the beautiful sadness. He crouches beside her. She is startled by his presence. There is a moment where her cheeks glow, shinier now because of her silent tears. He swallows deeply and she throws herself into him. Slowly, he wraps his arms around her, putting his face into her hair, breathing deeply. He feels her soft skin as he rubs her arms and her body shakes lightly.

"What did I do wrong?" she asks him, her face still buried into his clothes.

He should tell her that she had lost track of what is important--her true son and her husband. She has prioritized useless things. She has forgotten about her happiness. She has let his little brother take that away. And even though he knows that there is strength in numbers, that she can identify with Sasuke, he wants to tell her that she belongs in his arms, that he doesn't care. He loves her. That Sasuke doesn't deserve her. But he doesn't tell her. Because she must see the truth, and that is why she is asking.

But she doesn't and he knows this when she says, "I just want Sasuke's love."

He unwraps his arms around this woman, this woman that is not his mother, and leaves her alone in the garden. Behind him he closes the door to the outside and to the sick scene of her putting her head in her hands to cry. She is soon going to be a lost cause.

When he comes home from a mission, he finds his mother sharing cake with his younger brother. They only glance up before they become wrapped back in their silly conversation, their childish stories. Itachi wants to hit her, wants to make her bleed for her stupidity. He feels betrayed. He passes his father and the only noise is their footsteps. He feels invisible.

So when Sasuke wants to trade him, his kunai for Sasuke's, he accepts. Quickly. Gratefully, he gathers all that is his and tries to give it to Sasuke, and he attempts to take everything of Sasuke's, everything that had once been his back.

But it doesn't work.

Everything grows. This Uchiha Itachi knows.

So when things get worse, not better, he decides he will stop this now before it gets too far.

One day he does it.

xviii.

He understands that there is a time to speak, and a time to listen.

This is a time to listen.

He sits on the grass, one leg spread out, the other bent. Down below he can see the village, the separate districts, the stone, the walls that divide. He can hear the man move behind him, but he doesn't even turn around.

"Pieces of shit," he hisses. Itachi does not say anything. "All of them."

He doesn't tell the man that he disagrees, that he is not doing this because he holds a grudge in his heart. He doesn't tell him this because it is easier if he does not know.

"I suppose I'll deal with your family," he continues behind Itachi, voice low as he lets himself think about the night about to come. "To make things easier."

"No," Itachi finally says, because this is a time to speak.

The man is surprised and this can be seen by his eyes that slightly sparkle. But the feeling is soon gone and instead a sly grin plays itself on his lips. The boy is truly something else. The boy who can kill his own will be killed by none.

"Leave them to me," he says before he stands and abruptly leaves the scene.

The man is left behind, arms behind his back, as his eyes sweep over the village.

Yes, the boy will go far.

xix.

He thinks that the first time is always the worst.

He remembers his first time throwing a kunai. Pathetic. He remembers his first time getting seriously injured. Terrifying. He remembers his first time kissing. Unexpected. His first time having sex? Not knowing enough to fully enjoy it.

He had just come back from the hills in the distance, from a break from the world, and his veins lit with electricity, and thunder boomed in his head. Quickly, he followed a familiar path and now sees that she is already walking. He comes up behind her and takes the logs that she is carrying, only to drop them on the ground.

"Hey!" she yells, spinning around to face him and give the logs on the ground a frustrated look. "What was that for?"

She is now glaring at him, her lips rolled into a small pout. And they are wet and look soft, so without thinking, he pulls her to him and sets his lips on hers. She is startled at first, and he feels this, and thinks it is expected. But he does not expect her to push herself toward him and snake her tongue out to run along his lips.

He holds her there for a while, because her lips are so soft pressed against his own, and because she is holding onto him so tightly that if she were to let go, she would go tumbling backwards. But she finally pulls away, out of breath.

"Itachi," she breathes, trying to sound upset though there is a smile on her face. "Slow down."

Already he is reaching for her again. "Quiet," he tells her.

"W-What's the hurry?" she asks, stepping back.

He stares at her blankly. Doesn't she understand?

Tomorrow will happen and he will be gone. He wishes he could tell her, but he can't. Instead, he kisses her again.

Uchiha Itachi knows that those who think they have all the time in the world waste the most.

xx.

Practice makes perfect.

And that is why he killed Shisui. Well that and for his eyes, the eyes that will help him expose the truth to everyone. They had guessed it was him who had done it of course. Who was the only one who had the guts to do such a thing? All the fingers point to only one.

And now he stands in the middle of the street, feeling absolutey drunk on good feelings and anticipation.

He has help killing the useless, the bodies that are only a makeup of flesh, organs, bones, and teeth. He has help from someone smart, someone worthy, someone just like him. Most would call it brainwash. Itachi begs to differ. Who's to say we are not all brainwashed as we speak?

So when he knocks the rest down like pawns, one by one, he slowly makes his way to his own home. He first searches for Sasuke, to get him out the way. What he is about to do is meant for his family, and his family alone. He doesn't need the kid getting in the way. But Itachi should have planned for this, should have expected the unexpected. But all is well. He will turn it into something else.

There is no time to waste as he opens the door to his home. His father is not home, but his mother is and he finds her in her garden, sitting, shaking, waiting like a lamb for the chopping block. She hears his footsteps as he walks closer, his face remaining expressionless. He stands before her and at first they just stare, and he realizes her face is dry, her eyes are blank, but he can see her emotions, he can feel them, and they excite him because they are all directed at him.

In a split instant, she is gone from her spot and he already predicts where she is bolting to. The door. To the street. To the hell that waits outside. And he quickly moves, stopping her before she reaches the door to get into the house. She is fumbling with the door even though she is pressed against it and can't move. Her body raises and falls against his as she breaths deeply, and frankly, his breath is catching short.

"Stop," she says, her voice cracking. Quicker and quicker, she whines, "stop, stop, stop" until all that comes out is a string of 's' sounds and sharp breaths.

When her body, her mind, is tired and he feels her loosen in his arms, he peels her away from the door, holding her like she is some kind of pet or animal that had hurt itself, and he is afraid of her running away. He tries to hush her as he leads her to a room, pausing once or twice when she attempts to rip away from him or tries to punch him.

The room is dark, the only light coming from outside. He likes it, he thinks. It fits this perfectly. He leads his mother into the room and she is lightly crying now, wiping her nose with her sleeve. The running mess from her nose he scowls at, but is thankful for, because this will only make it easier. He leans her against a wall, pausing to make sure she doesn't fall, because at this point he thinks she understands what is going on, and already her soul is getting ready for departure.

"What have you done with your father?" she asks him. Surprised, he turns to look at her.

"Nothing."

"Liar," she spits at him. "Your brother?"

"He is alive."

"Liar!" she yells again, spit flying from her mouth as she moves toward him, but he is already ready for her struggles, and he holds her hands as she tries to fight against him. "Monster!" He shushes into her ear, trying to wrap his arms around her. It's hard to hear her call him the things she does. In fact it kills, but that is why he is doing this.

Soon she stops fighting and instead pushes her body into his, and he closes his eyes. She puts her hands on his chest and gathers clothing into her hands to grip tightly. He can feel her tears soak through his shirt, through his skin, through every part of him. Her tears fuel him. Her sad tears. And he is doing this to dry them. He is doing this to make her happy.

"My baby boy," she whispers into him, nuzzling her face against him. Lightly, so much softer, she whispers, "My baby."

His eyes are still closed and they hold each other. He tries to memorize everything. The light scent of moisture in her hair, her soft, soft skin that is covered with bumps, bumps from fright. He memorizes how wonderfully she fits into his arms, how wonderfully he used to mold into hers. He memorizes her chokes and sobs, her soft voice as she calls to him.

"My baby boy."

She puts a hand into his hair, his fine, thin hair, so much like her own.

"I used to hold you so close."

She holds him tighter, trying to compress him into what he used to be, what he still is. Her baby. Though she does not know it. She is foolish, misguided. Like a lost child. He takes pity.

"I don't understand," she whispers to him when he looks down at her soft face, so lost, so confused.

"One day you will."

He swallows deeply as he slowly pulls away from her. She is looking into his face, into her own life, her mistakes, her triumphs. Her failure.

"On your knees," he tells her softly.

And in such a short time, she is his mother once more. Because she is graceful, because she is serene, because she is beautiful, she steps back and slowly drops to her knees, looking up at him. He tells her in one word to wait, and mentally tells himself the same thing. He does not turn away from her as they are still in silence. She stares at his feet, and he wonders what she is thinking about. Is her husband dead? He already told her. What happened to her other son? He already told her. She didn't believe him but maybe now she does.

They both hear rapid footsteps coming towards them and Itachi knows they are his father's. The door opens and he watches as his mother closes her eyes, her bottom lip quivering.

"You son of a bitch," his father hisses. Itachi doesn't face him, but can hear his father come toward him sloppily, a result of his pure rage. Easily, Itachi catches his wrist and flings him toward his mother. He lands heavily next to his wife.

Itachi surveys the scene as he draws his blade. His father picks himself up on his knees, staring hard at his son. His mother, he sees, frightened and disbelieving, holds herself because no one else will and looks away from her husband and son, to Itachi's shadow. It is tall and dark, towering above their own.

Itachi counts in his head. The sooner this is over, the better. Every moment he hesitates, every moment he pauses is just another step in making this harder. He looks back to his father and raises the blade.

"So this is where we fall," his father says, clenching his jaw.

Itachi shakes his head. "This is where we stand."

And the blade goes down. His father follows shortly after.

The feeling, so energetic, so euphoric, grips him completely and sends a shudder through his spine. He doesn't even hear his mother's piercing scream. He will never know what he has missed.

His mother will come next, dying dutifully next to her husband lying on the ground, bleeding profusely from his neck, the blood drowning them all, but at the same time, allowing an escape.

His mother starts to shake violently and cries hysterically. Even though she had been a good ninja in her time, a women ninja who knew not to take her work too seriously for one day she would find a husband, she had been strong. She is strong. And he cannot blame her for her tears. He cannot blame her. She is his mother. He cannot damn her.

Slowly, peacefully, he crouches down before her. She looks at him and screams, but does not glance away, and he respects that. He latches onto her arm quickly and she jumps at the sudden movement. He pulls her to him and he is stuck on how to do this. He knows it should be quick, time is running out. But needless to say, this is not easy for him to do.

It is for the best. It must be done. But having her in his arms, after all this time, sets him back. She is holding onto his clothing tightly and shaking against him.

He wants to knock her out, but he thinks she deserves better than that. She is strong. She deserves a brave death. So he when he stabs her, he is happy that all she does is stutter. She must have gone into shock.

"When you wake up," he tells her as her grip loosens, as she slumps into him, "I'll be there."

And he lets her fall back. Her lips still quiver when she lands on top of her husband's back. The blood is flowing through her lips, her eyes are wide, unblinking. It's breathtaking.

In the background, he can hear the orchestra, the soft winds and the bellowing brass. He can hear the choir, the bells.

He stands back and looks at his family, his face emotionless and eyes blank. He sees them ascend.

One day he too will fly.

xxi.

Sasuke is a minor inconvenience and for now he'll over look it.

xxii.

Uchiha Itachi holds his childhood close.

Many would not call it a childhood, but he sees it for what it really is. He was a child, he was a son. He still is. All that's left is time--time that he will waste, time that he does not care for, time that keeps him away from his family. It is only a matter of time before he joins them. And that is why he so easily tells Sasuke what to do. The foolish thing would never achieve it alone. Itachi clearly spells it out for him. Make yourself stronger. Come find me. Kill me. Because that is really what he wants. He only hopes his younger brother can deliver.

He finds a group to kill time with. His teacher had recruited him, and Itachi had accepted. They are all fools, he thinks. Fools just like him. Fools that work for something that they don't even understand. What good is fighting the battle when you don't know what the war is about? But they do it anyway. Useless, Itachi thinks. All of it.

He meets new people. Some interesting. Others not so much.

He likes his partner, however. He finds him very tolerable.

At night they do not speak but they recognize each other's presence. They do not overstep boundaries, they do not poke their noses in what does not need to be known. Because they have respect. In the morning, they wish each other a good morning and hopefully an easy day. Because that is something they have in common. They do not care for unnecessary things. So when they fight, when they battle, they understand one another and they finish it quickly.

He knows when people are fools.

Orochimaru is a fool.

He is a fool to believe that Itachi is weak, so weak that he'll let Orochimaru steal what is his. It is his. And he doesn't take kindly to others trying to take what belongs to him. So he thinks that perhaps instead of the killing the dreadful fool, he can shoo him off. And he does. Like a little cat, Itachi muses before he allows himself to grin.

Later when they battle the Leaf ninja, Itachi tries to finish it quickly because honestly, this is unneeded. The woman's lip quivers and he stares at them. They twitch and tense just like his mother's. She is interesting. He thinks that maybe he'll observe this. She tries to trap him in an illusion. A tree. A pathetic try. It reminds him of his own when he had started practicing with illusions. How interesting, he thinks. He stands still for a second, making her believe that she had gotten somewhere.

But then he reverses it, easily trapping her within her own illusion. And it is easy, so easy. She glares at him with those red eyes and he hates the color of them. He doesn't have to really say anything because he knows that she is smart enough to pick up the mockery. But he does anyway, making her feel even more pathetic. Even angrier, she shakes, and it's cute, he thinks-- the way her cheeks puff and eyes narrow. So angry, her lips almost in an annoyed pout. Like a child. Like the girl he used to see, he thinks.

He tries to scare her and perhaps it works. Well, he thinks it very well does because she bites her lower lip and gets herself free. He is about to smirk but then he hears Kisame and the other man's voices and he thinks that they are being annoying. So he kicks her away in an attempt to separate them from the other two.

Annoyingly, someone else interrupts. Effortlessly, he traps him in an illusion.

Things get a little complicated, a little messy. He can feel his partner's frustration and his is growing quickly. He sees her pout again when they take off.

She reminds him of his childhood.

He holds it close.

xxiii.

He has always been picky.

With his food, clothing, anything. Women included.

He doesn't droll after them like Kisame, nor does he wish to deal with multiple women. He finds one that he can't peel his eyes from, and this is a sign that she is worth his time. And he can only stare lazily at her, his smirk covered by his collar, when she looks back at him, eyelashes fluttering, and he hears Kisame gawk and curse at his luck. Uchiha Itachi waits and looks because Uchiha Itachi does not settle.

He comes to her when her needs her and she is always waiting. When he is with her, she resembles more. The girl from his past, the women with red eyes, his mother. She is not herself, more or less a representation. Later he realizes that he doesn't even remember her name. But her voice is soft, like her hair. He doesn't like to see her cry but makes her anyway. She fits nicely in his arms and she thinks so too. Her husband, however, doesn't.

When she does something unlike what she is supposed to be, he bids her goodbye and continues to the next one. One that is worthy.

One day he will not have to settle for cheap imitations.

xxiv.

Uchiha Itachi does not remember what is not important to him.

And for this reason, when he sees Sasuke again after such a long time, it does not stick really stick in his mind. What he does remember is anger. Sasuke's anger is blind rage and ultimately stupid. Itachi thinks it's funny, but also quite annoying.

He should have remembered that the boy always liked to play the victim.

And Itachi lets him, because his hate is not strong enough. At this rate, Sasuke will never be able to even lay a finger on him. So Itachi kindly reminds him and drops him like a sack of potatoes.

Uchiha Itachi thinks it's funny that that scene is so vague in his mind, and yet, he remembers that the girl he once knew loved peaches, just like him.

xxv.

When his sickness gets worse, Uchiha Itachi is happy.

Because that means his family is calling for him.

"Wait," he tells them with a smirk.

Because Sasuke is coming.

He has heard of Sasuke's desperate attempts, and thinks it is pathetic. But it would be rude not to greet him after all his hard work.

So he continues to wait. He hopes Sasuke will hurry.

That day is not coming fast enough.

xxvi.

Uchiha Itachi takes responsibility for everything he has done.

When a strange girl with pink hair jumps on his back, rudely interrupting his battle with the kyuubi, he flips her over him and gets her to the ground. He lets Kisame hold the demon child off while he stares at the girl, deciding what to do with this.

She is very angry, very upset. And he can't help but wonder why. Is she cross with him because of his family's death? He wants to tell her to see her way of out his business, because it is annoying when people talk about what they do not understand. But she beats him to the first words.

"Asshole!" she yells at him. "Stupid fuck!"

She is bleeding from her mouth but her teeth still clench as she grips his shirt collar. Her hold is strong and her muscles flex. He gives them a look, determining that he does not like them. Her skin isn't soft, her hair is matted. She is strong, very strong. A part of him admires this, but the other does not care for it. He looks at her face and relaxes his body above hers so that he is now making it difficult for her to breath.

"Do you know what you have done to Sasuke?" she asks, spitting blood at him.

"Aa," he responds and she pauses, and he thinks that that is because she was not expecting an honest answer.

"And you feel no regret?"

"Sometimes I think I should have killed him," he tells her truthfully. And because of his answer, she begins to thrash. Wildly.

"I hate you!" she hisses, struggling. She manages to turn around so that now she is lying flat on her stomach, his weight crushing against her back. "I fucking hate you."

"You don't even know who I am," he growls into her ear. And he wonders why he is speaking so much to her, wondering why he is trying to justify his actions to someone. Because he had never needed to before, so why now? Why her?

She answers this childishly. "Well, whatever you are, I hate it!"

She continues to struggle and he doesn't let go. He doesn't know why. But she screams and thrashes and the demon boy is yelling that he is coming for her. And Itachi wants to tell him that he's not hurting her. If he was not on top of her, she would be trying to hurt him.

But Uchiha Itachi knows he is supposed to be the villain, so it all makes sense.

She stops moving and lays still, breath harsh. His lips are still by her ear as they both watch their partners battle one another.

"I can't wait till Sasuke kills you," she says below him.

And he just answers, "Neither can I."

She doesn't ask because he is already gone.

One day he'll be gone for good.

xxvii.

He feels light when he sees his brother across from him.

It is an out of body experience. He sees himself with his brother, fighting expertly. He hears annoying voices in the background and wishes that these annoying teammates of his brother's would just keel over. This is his moment. How dare they interrupt it with their irritating voices.

But he tries to look past it. Nothing can stop this beauty. Nothing.

Both are badly wounded, so close. So very close. He smiles while Sasuke cries. He stares at these tears whenever he has the chance. They glisten and glow, surrounding him with light. He knows that Sasuke is frustrated, he knows wants to give up. But he doesn't, and Itachi has to admit that the brat has surprised him. They yell at each other, for revenge, for glory.

Itachi recognizes the kunai Sasuke is using, and he is thankful that Sasuke has allowed for a poetic moment. He sees the blood of the man, he sees his father's fingerprints. And he is satisfied when his blood, his own mark, is on it too.

When he feels that kunai wedging itself into his scull, he feels it. He knows all the wait has paid off. It feels so good. He lurches forward, letting himself do something that he had always wanted to do, finally. He lets himself stab the damn monster, the monster that glares back at him, his eyes almost as red as his own. He smiles at his brother and wishes him goodbye. He falls back, not caring whether the boy lives or dies. Frankly, he doesn't care.

He feels the waves crash against him. In his head, he hears a ticking clock. In a moment, he is in the sky.

He has waited.

xxviii.

The day has finally come.

-

-

The person lays the rose in front of the wall, in front of the fan. Her lips twitch into a small smile, perhaps out of relief or maybe because of sick humor. In his opinion, it is because of the first. But she bows her head, letting her pink hair fall in front of her face. Someone stands next to her and they link each other's fingers. They stand for a while, just staring at the fan. The fan that is already fading, the fan that will most likely be gone soon. The wind, the rain, the sleet, the storms will wash it away, just like one day they too will be gone forever.

But they swim against the waves, at least for the time being. The tide quickly races to the shore, but they know. They now know from exampe, and they will swim against the tide instead of ride ontop.

They turn away from the fan and walk out of the district, not sparing a second glance. They don't need concrete, plaster, and paint to remind them. It is written on the walls, engraved in their own bodies. Both will eventually wither away. His blonde hair dances in the wind, and she flips hers to feel the wind blow against her skin. The earth is moving. They feel it.

And still the kids sing.

Poor family Uchiha

What have you learned?

Poor family Uchiha

The world still turns.

In the future, the walls will be crushed to nothing but rubble, the lines will be erased. Their names, unknown. Their story, cast away. And someone will walk over where the fan once was. Grass will grow from the dirt.

The roses will still bleed, but history, history will eventually repeat.

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I know I'm avoiding things.

But I'm tired of brotherly love.

I'll come back to hopefully get all my typos.

I might come back with rewrites.

Feedback?