Well, He's Got to Start Asking Questions Sometime

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

"You're my spare!" Itachi declared maniacally.

Sasuke, caught in his brother's Tsukuyomi or not, looked decidedly unimpressed. "Wait…are you honestly telling me that all of this was because you wanted to steal my eyes?"

Itachi nodded. "Evil, huh?"

"I can't believe I'm about to say this but…" Sasuke shuddered. "Naruto was right."

"About what?" Itachi asked blankly.

"He said that for as impulsive as everyone says he is, I'm the one who is always doing things without thinking them through and now that we're in a genjutsu and can be reasonably assured that we won't be interrupted, now's about as good a time as any to prove that I'm NOT as impulsive as Naruto, who would attack a dangerous missing-nin at twelve before he could even really use chakra to recover a goddamn headband," Sasuke explained.

"Not again…" Itachi muttered. "I thought we were done with this after I made him forget that he thought the massacre was a hallucination…"

"What was that?" Sasuke asked, startled. "When did I think it was a hallucination?"

"You didn't," Itachi said firmly.

"But you just said-"

"I say a lot of things," Itachi interrupted.

"Which is exactly my point!" Sasuke exclaimed triumphantly.

"You had a point?" Itachi asked.

"Of course I did!" Sasuke said, sounding mildly affronted. "I just haven't gotten around to telling you yet. You've been lying to me for half of my life; how can I trust anything you say?"

Itachi stared at his little brother with no small amount of disbelief. "I just told you I only care about stealing your eyes and you don't believe me?!?!"

"I don't know," Sasuke confessed. "I'm sixteen right now and you killed everyone when I was eight. Half of my life was before that and half of my life has been since that. Before, you said you cared and after you insisted you never did. Since the two completely contradict each other, both cannot possibly be true."

"I never saw you as anything but a naïve child who could save me from blindness," Itachi said helpfully.

"So you say," Sasuke allowed. "That's probably true, but even in Naruto's bright, shiny worldview where everyone has a compelling sob story and are tragically misunderstood, one of those two is a lie. Why should I believe you when you've only been honest with me half of the time? Or hell, maybe there's a third explanation and you've been lying to me all my life."

"And now you've moved on to conspiracy theories…Answer me this, Sasuke: you thought I cared about you and now you know I never did so where is the third option?" Itachi demanded. "I either did care or I didn't."

"But this makes no sense!" Sasuke insisted, frustrated.

"Are you sure?" Itachi queried. "I think 'I'm going to kill you and steal your eyes so I don't go blind' is pretty simple."

"But why now?" Sasuke asked.

"Because my eyesight is noticeably deteriorating," Itachi said patiently.

"But you said this eye transplant was a permanent solution. So why wait until you needed it? Why not just take them eight years ago when your Mangekyou Sharingan was new and you had just killed everyone?" Sasuke challenged.

"I didn't need them yet," Itachi said simply.

"But why wait?" Sasuke repeated. "You claim you never cared about me-"

"Because I don't," Itachi cut in smoothly. "How's that for honesty?"

"No idea," Sasuke replied dismissively. "If you don't care about any part of me but my eyes then why did you wait until the last second when you really needed them and let me grow up?"

"I wanted you to suffer," Itachi said bluntly.

Sasuke rolled his eyes. "It took me a few years, I'll admit, but I finally realized that me not dying at the tender age of eight was not, in fact, torture. That everyone else died was horribly traumatizing but the fact I'm alive is actually a GOOD thing. After all, how else could I get revenge? If ghosts could kill you, there are 319 of them who have plenty of incentive."

"I don't believe in ghosts," Itachi informed him.

"As you're still alive, neither do I," Sasuke agreed dryly.

"Well, as long as we're in agreement…"

"Plus, you were always so dead-set on me hating you," Sasuke added suddenly.

"I am not 'dead-set,'" Itachi disagreed. "I don't really care how you see me, though I understand a deep and abiding hatred is the usual reaction to someone massacring your entire family and leaving you comatose. Twice."

"The TWO times I've seen you since you decided you don't care about me, you kept telling me I was weak because I lacked hatred," Sasuke pointed out.

"You were weak and you also lacked hatred. I merely assumed the two were connected," Itachi claimed.

"And you made me relive the massacre until I needed to be hospitalized despite knowing it would just make you go blind faster. If you didn't care, why bother?" Sasuke pressed.

"If I did, why would I force you to see that?" Itachi countered neatly.

"Damned if I know," Sasuke shrugged. "You're kind of insane, you know."

"I am not!" Itachi looked almost offended.

"You murdered our entire family for reasons I still don't understand at thirteen, you ran off and joined an organization of flowery cloaked assassins who wear nail polish and are all head cases themselves, and you waited until I was strong enough so we could have an actual fight instead of you just kicking my ass again before agreeing to face me and try to steal my eyes," Sasuke listed off. "Of course you're not sane."

"I'll admit, there was a reason besides your eyes I wanted to keep you alive," Itachi conceded.

Sasuke perked up. "Oh?"

"I want to see Madara dead," Itachi said flatly. "I haven't faced an Uchiha in nearly eight years and, even then, they really weren't much of a challenge. I had hoped that, given your determination and the potential I had seen in you, you would provide a worthwhile challenge to test myself against before going off to kill our illustrious ancestor. Not to mention that I can't even recall the last time I had a REAL challenge…"

"But given how I apparently failed to measure up to your expectations the last time we met, why didn't you just give it up as a bad job?" Sasuke inquired.

"You ran off to Orochimaru almost immediately upon waking and that was really punishment enough," Itachi decided.

"He made me strong!" Sasuke insisted.

"Do you have any idea how easy it was for me to defeat him? It's almost sad just how little effort I put into it…" Itachi sighed.

"Well, you beat everyone in Konoha except Jiraiya, but he was already teaching Naruto and I couldn't very well train WITH him," Sasuke said a bit defensively.

"If you weren't weak, you wouldn't have needed the help in the first place," Itachi told him frankly.

"But you said Uchiha Madara had been teaching you! Wouldn't that make you weak, then?" Sasuke asked.

Itachi raised one eyebrow elegantly. "Can you really say that I'm weak with a straight face?"


Itachi looked satisfied. "That's what I thought."

"But that's such a double standard!" Sasuke protested.

"Logic only applies to the weak," Itachi declared. "The insanely strong often do things such as contrive to steal people's eyes, seek peace through mass murder, seal demons in either people or objects, or plan to use the moon to take over the world."

"What was that last one?" Sasuke asked.

"Trust me, you really don't want to know," Itachi answered.

"How the hell am I supposed to trust you?" Sasuke demanded angrily. "You've-"

"Been lying to you for half of your life, I know," Itachi said tiredly. "Have you decided why you don't necessarily believe me about only being interested in your eyes yet?"

"Because you're crazy and that makes no sense," Sasuke replied promptly.

"If I'm crazy I don't need to make sense," Itachi pointed out. "You have no idea how liberating it is to be able to finally reveal my true self after so many years of wearing a mask of impassiveness…"

"You probably wouldn't be so insane if you let it all out on occasion," Sasuke suggested.

"I'll keep that in mind after I take your eyes and kill Madara," Itachi said wryly.

"And then what?"

Itachi looked puzzled. "What do you mean?"

"What will you do after you kill me and this 'Madara' person?" Sasuke asked again.

Itachi shrugged slightly. "I suppose I'll find something to do. What about you? Do you have any set plan should a miracle occur and you manage to kill me?"

"Well, first I'll need to kill Uchiha Madara to complete my revenge-" Sasuke began.

Itachi actually snorted. "How? You don't even have a Mangekyou Sharingan."

Sasuke flushed. "I'll think of something! After that…I don't know. Maybe I'll go back to Konoha. After all, they haven't actually acknowledged I left yet."

"How thoughtful," Itachi remarked.

"The Hokage apparently loves my self-professed 'best friend,'" Sasuke explained. "The last two times I've seen him, I nearly killed him, but he's not really letting that stop him."

"Ah, Naruto-kun, right?" Itachi asked.

"Who else?" Sasuke asked rhetorically. "So seeing as how only one of us will be leaving this confrontation alive, can you please finally explain to me why you killed everyone?"

"To test my capacity," Itachi reminded him. "I know I've told you that before."

"Yeah, but you killed everyone. Even the bedridden, elderly, and civilians! Killing people who have no hope of defending themselves is not going to test or prove anything!" Sasuke paused. "Except, perhaps, how evil you are."

"I told you our family was a cursed family who killed their friends and family and, occasionally, their own siblings on a routine basis," Itachi elaborated.

"I'll agree that that's messed up," Sasuke said reluctantly. "But since you killed ALL of your family and several of your friends and are currently trying to kill me, your younger brother, you can't very well talk. And if you're evil, why should you care about the evil of the Uchiha Clan as a whole?"

"It doesn't matter if I had a right to judge them, I did anyway. After all, who better to see the evil inherent in a clan than the epitome of their perfection?" Itachi mused.

"And come to think of it, why do you need to steal my eyes anyway?" Sasuke demanded. "Couldn't we just switch eyes?"

"We could," Itachi agreed readily. "If I cared."

"Oh, for the love of-" Sasuke broke off. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and resolved to keep at this until he made some progress.

It might take awhile.

- -

"Hey, Aloe Vera!" Naruto called, arriving on the scene with the other members of his eight-man team some time later. "Why are Sasuke and Itachi just standing around staring at each other?"

"Genjutsu battle," Zetsu's white half replied.

"They've been there for EIGHT HOURS," the dark half added.

"Really?" Kakashi asked, surprised. "Wow. I get that they like genjutsu, but that's kind of ridiculous."

"I know," Zetsu's white half agreed. "Worst. Video. Ever. This is supposed to be an epic battle!"

"I bet it's an epic genjutsu," Naruto offered. "Then again, knowing Sasuke he could just be spending the whole time glaring at his brother."

"I'm sure when they're done with this they'll have a proper battle," Sakura said optimistically.

"Since Sasuke's right here, can't we just knock him out and drag him home?" Kiba asked. "It's not like he's in any shape to stop us…"

"He would kill us," Naruto replied seriously. "Let's wait until they beat each other half to death first and THEN knock him out and drag him home."

"What about Itachi?" Hinata asked.

"If he's still alive, we can take him back, too," Kakashi decided.

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that," Zetsu's dark half declared seriously.

The eight-man squad turned to face him menacingly.

"This is not going to be fun," Zetsu's white half lamented.

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