Two Flames Dance

By Andrew Joshua Talon

Disclaimer: Naruto is the property of it's original creator, I am not writing this for money.

A/N: Takes place before the Uchiha Clan Massacre

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Flames danced. There was no other way to describe it in her mind. It writhed, it dipped, it jumped and glided to a beat of its own, the chemical reaction releasing a show. Oxygen, energy, and fuel, combined to create something like life, joyful release into the darkness.

Mikoto couldn't help her fascination with it. Whatever her problems with the Uchiha clan, their symbol always seemed so alive, so removed from the backroom politics and petty shows of self-importance. She had never had much interest in such things-Fugaku's realm was not hers, spiraling webs of concern over appearance and position. He was so very cold-Always had been, always focused on the next hurdle, and what to use to get over it.

It was… Well, frankly, tiring.

Solace was found in her children and social networks, flames of a different sort. Pride was always to be found in either of her sons. Itachi with his leaps and bounds, Sasuke with his slow, steady pace.

Scholarship would have been her ideal choice of a career for her youngest, with her oldest, well… The small hope had always existed that the prodigy genius would turn to more peaceful uses of his immense talent. She was a mother, after all, and her son out of harm's way, helping others, attracting the right sort of woman to be his wife… All dreams she held for both her sons.

Itachi learned quickly, even before the activation of his bloodline. The Sharingan was not his end all, not the impetus for his soaking up of knowledge, no-It merely increased the amount of information he could process. What he could do, he learned, and there was very little he could not do once he put his mind to it. Mathematics, history, medicine, strategy-Into the field he bravely struck, conquering subject after subject by experimenting and practicing. It was why he had risen so high, so fast-He did what he had to do to master an obstacle. Mikoto loved his determination, his will and knowledge to do what needed to be done, and his courage.

Sasuke learned more slowly, but a spark of wonder and imagination hid behind those dark eyes of his. Of not just learning but of thinking, devising, imagining the new and unique. Mikoto could tell, he had dreams. Dreams of stars, dreams of new ideas and new innovations. So many wonderful ideas and flights of fancy could spring to life from her son's mind were he given only the tools. So what if he didn't activate his Sharingan as a child? So what if he did not become the same caliber of ninja as his brother or even his father? He had a gentle soul that longed to know and understand. Mikoto loved him for his curiosity, his imagination and his kind heart.

Like different parts of a flame, she further reflected. Itachi burned, Sasuke provided light and warmth. The love she had for them both was endless, without a favorite-For who could love fire for only one aspect?

Yet love was not the only emotion that could easily be likened to a flame. Mikoto found this fascinating as well.

Hate and anger burned inside. It drove a person like a boiler drives a ship, a flame that would grant power in exchange for fuel. That fuel, well… It took many forms. Mikoto was familiar with one in particular-Revenge.

Betrayal ran deep in the Uchihas, a cancer, a dark page of history that could never be removed. Ever since Madara's attempted coup, suspicion fell on their clan. It had led to their elitism, their isolationism-The hurt and anger from the injustice of it all fed the flames, stoked by their clan's successes and work for what seemed to be a largely ungrateful Konoha. Blood and sweat and lives sacrificed, for what? For scorn? For experimentation? For distrust?

Betrayal ran both ways, hurting either side of the divide. And while one side suffered guilt and lashed out to relieve it, the other side suffered anger, and sought the means to fuel it-Revenge.

She sat awake at night for long periods of time, contemplating the future of the Uchiha. The clan elders were ever plotting, dealing in darkness, smarting from some new perceived slight that all seemed to reinforce their anger. Fugaku had gotten locked into the struggle, his own ambitions passing him by as a ninja after an injury confined him to police work. She loved him regardless, but it wasn't enough for him. Itachi granted him leverage in the council. Itachi granted him power, and so his ambitions again returned.

In this, Mikoto found herself betrayed-Betrayed by her husband, betrayed by her family.

She tried not to feed the anger that prickled into existence at it. She knew the price that would bring.

Instead, she tried to find hope. A light in the darkness.

Her sons were two of these. Despite the politicking involving his name, Itachi showed no interest in whatever the elders were scheming this time, and Sasuke, bless him, had his "slowness" to protect him. She was thankful more than ever that her boys were so different-One too high and fast to be caught in the council's webs, the other flying too low and slow to be eyed. It brought a smile to her face.

Hope could indeed be found in her children. Two small flames to guide the way. And goodness knew that they needed something like that, in the midst of Shunsui's mysterious suicide. The Clan was going to push on her eldest son, her husband leading the charge. Whatever it was they were up to, she knew, she knew, her son would not stand for it. No matter what, Itachi would stay burning, stay a beacon of hope for her family.

And after the burning was done… Sasuke would bring light and warmth and new growth to the Uchiha clan. Calm and steady, idealism to show the family the way to the future.

Mikoto knew betrayal and anger, how they burned and longed to ignite. But she would not let them. Not while her two little flames kept dancing.


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Written for Watashiwa's Iron Fic contest on The Fanfiction Forum. Take that for what it's worth.