Do not own Naruto; do not want to. Also, the lyrics in the last chapter were from Leave Out All the Rest, a song by Linkin Park. Obviously, since it's not by me, I do not own the lyrics, music, cd or band. Nor do I want to, because I would fuck up everything (seeing as the only instruments I can play are the baritone and saxophone : / )

Fore warning: If you do not like the idea of people taking drugs, stop reading now. There will be drug use/abuse/misuse (whatever; I get the difference, I just don't care) beginning in this chapter and until…well, there's going to be drugs in here for a while. You've been warned. Also, btw, by the end of this story there will be ItaSasu. If you don't like that stuffs (yaoi, incest, sexual scenes and stuffs of that nature), you have also been warned; there will also be things such as rape and a possibility of some theft and under aged drinking/smoking. However, I will warn you again at the start of those chapters and right before hand in the actual chapter itself (for the major things like sex scenes, anyway). Any other couples will be announced later too, for I have not thought this story out entirely…it's a working progress. Apparently a slow working progress...sorry for that...

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Chapter 9 – So Different, Yet the Same

Itachi was not used to driving during this time of day, and was quite shocked to discover that barely a soul was out on the road. He hardly had to glance behind him when attempting to change lanes, and found that he often sat alone at stop lights. He figured that the majority of the moderately small population was, at this time, at school, home or work; 'In other words, where they are supposed to be.'

He drove in silence the whole way, not allowing himself the comfort of music.

After only a short time, he arrived at the house he was searching for. He had never actually driven himself out to this destination; the last time he had been here, he was not exactly old enough to have a license. His father had been the one to take him – Itachi flinched as the memory brought the too familiar pain with it – and that had been quite a few years ago. The driveway was getting rather warn, the cause no doubt due to the owner no longer bothering to put more gravel down. The grass grew wild in some parts, as if mirroring the change within the people around it, and garbage littered the yard as frequent as dandelions: Beer cans, plastic of all shapes and sizes, soda cans, water bottles, cigarettes.

Itachi pulled up to the house, shutting off his car. The sleek, black Mustang looked entirely out of place where it sat, it's surroundings shouting out to the eyes "Unclean!"

For everything – every living creature that dared to walk here – truly was that. Unclean.

The first porch step creaked, causing Itachi to flinch back. He had never been fond of steps, no matter how few in number they were. They always brought back terrible memories…but now was not the time to be remembering them. He forced – for he had to do just that, literally force himself to walk up those four steps onto the porch – himself up the steps, dodging the bottles and other trash items while making his way to the front door, his OCD screaming out to him to run away from the chaos around him. He went to knock at first, but thought otherwise when he noticed that the door was actually open already. 'Shisui…was expecting me. I see no reason to not head inside.'

With that, and a final mental note that this was indeed the correct and 'Itachi' thing to do1, he attempted to push open the door lightly.

And failed.

A few shoves and a good amount of elbow grease later, he managed to pry the door open enough to let himself in. A quick glance behind the door told Itachi that Shisui had thrown a party the night before, and a few guests were still past out in various places on the floor. He frowned as he looked around, his eyes being greeted by a place that had been in need of cleaning for quite some time now. Not sure of where the smells that were currently assaulting his nostrils came from, and not quite wanting to know, he quickly found the safest trail through the jungle in search of the head tiger. Only after searching the entire house did the poor teen notice that the person in question was actually outside on the back porch. He sighed, pushing open the door to the back porch. He stopped for a moment, resisting the urge to once again see everything he had eaten that day, taking in deep breaths as he pushed his bangs out of his face, noting only subconsciously that his hands were shaking. Once he was sure that everything would stay down, he glanced over at his cousin – who was just now noticing that Itachi was there – hesitant to move in case the ill feeling came back, and still not completely convinced that seeing Shisui was the best thing for his mental health.

"Oh, Itachi. You've…gotten taller." Itachi turned to his right; the man looking back at him was hardly a man at all. The once muscular frame stood frail in front of him, the clothing that would once have fit him tightly at one time hung off of his body. The bones in his face were becoming noticeable, his fingernails broken and dirty, hair obviously not taken care of, and his eyes both glazed over as if he could not see what was in front of him and also frantically darting back and forth, as if constantly searching for things that were never there yet permanently etched into the back of his eyes so that they were never gone either.


:: ::

Sasuke rolled over, shielding his eyes from the sun by pulling the sheets up over his head. He vaguely thought over the idea that the sun was slowly getting closer to the earth, seeing that it was so bright that early in the morning. 'I can't even hear Itachi up yet…why the hell is it so fucking bright outside?' He shrugged it off mentally, deciding that the best way to figure out why it was so bright was to sleep on it.

'Then again, something's odd…' Sasuke frowned, staring deep in thought at the back of his eye lids, 'I could have sworn that my sheets were a dark blue…not black. Maybe it's the lighting.' He peeked out of one eye to confirm his sheet's color, but had to frown deeper, 'I also don't remember such a bright room. Maybe Madara took down my curtains again.' He yawned, stretched, then finally sat up, planning on heading downstairs to argue with his uncle about how often his curtains needed to be washed, when he at last took a good look at his surroundings.

"Hello, Sasuke," Shino walked into his own room, almost surprised that Sasuke was already awake, "Awake so soon?"

The boy in question frowned, looking a bit nervous about where he was. After all, it wasn't every day that he passed out in the school bathroom and woke up in someone else's bed.

"The bathroom wasn't the best place to rest," Shino stated simply, then walked across the room, staring intently at something on his dresser – at least, that was Sasuke's best guess at what he was doing. The teen wrapped his arms around his legs, sitting and waiting for the mysterious prick to continue.

'… What the hell?' "So you just decided to bring me to your house instead?" 'This is feeling like the beginning of some horror movie or something, where the popular kid everyone loves goes missing and is never seen or heard from again.' Sasuke shuddered, pulling his legs closer to his torso. "I really should get back you know. Classes and such."

"It's been too late. You realize that now, don't you?" Shino didn't budge, which only made the shiver going down Sasuke's spine increase in intensity. He sighed heavily, wondering what the hell Shino was talking about. Unless...

'Oh shit.' Sasuke's eyes widened in fear, realization hitting him. 'Unless he's more than just a normal drug dealer! He's probably brought me here to drug me! Of course!' Panic setting in now, Sasuke jerked his head up to stare at his captor, 'I'm such an easy target. With my natural beauty and undeniable sex appeal, I'd be the perfect person to sell for unspeakable deeds! I should have seen this coming! I mean, who isn't interested in me? He'll probably have his -'

"Sasuke, I do hope you'll forgive me. I do hate conflict." Shino walked swiftly over to the bed, carrying a white bag. With swift movements that Sasuke didn't know he was capable of, Shino pulled out a needle and a bottle.

'Oh FUCK!' "Hell no, Shino!" Sasuke shot out of bed, backing towards the door to the bedroom, "There's no way I'll let you sell me to some random guy in a dark alley! Did you think I would just lay there, completely oblivious-"

"Sell you in a dark alley? I'm not sure what that has to do-"

"-and then just throw me away? You disgust me! Honestly, the drugs were one thing, but slaves? There's something seriously wrong with you!"

Shino sighed deeply. "Sasuke. I'm not going to sell you. For one, I'm not going to be the one who deals with your brother when you go missing."

Sasuke flinched at the mention of his brother. 'What would he think, seeing me like this?' He felt a hot flash coming on, so proceeded to sit down in the floor.

"Sasuke," said person looked up, discomfort being the dominant feeling dancing across his face, "There was never a way to avoid this. You know that, right?" Sasuke sighed, closing his eyes against the intensifying heat, knowing the only way to get rid of all of this. Only one way to stop the craving, the hot flashes, cold chills, insistent yawning and lack of sleep, the guilt.

And only one way to forget about...

Shino handed the bag down after placing its former contents within it, 'And I have a much better way of making money off of you.'

:: ::

Itachi drove back to school just in time for the final bell to ring. He got out of the car and leaned nonchalantly against it, hoping that Sasuke wouldn't question how he had reached the car so quickly. Pinching the bridge of his nose to push back a headache, he thought about how dangerous it had been for him to ditch without informing at least Sasuke about it. 'Then again, I am certain Sasuke would not be much help if something had happened while I was there.'

A door slammed shut, surprising Itachi when it moved the car he was leaning on. He looked in his window to confirm it, and sighed. 'Sasuke still does not want to talk to anyone, I see.' The elder brother climbed into the driver's seat, cursing his older self for not enjoying his little brother's company more when he was a chatter box.

:: ::

Madara pulled into his driveway, late for dinner as usual. His head was pounding from a close-to-migrane, no doubt to him brought on by those damned pills that Itachi would practically shove down his throat with the help of that no-good funnel of his. It's not like he actually needed them anyway. So what, he was a bit peculiar without them. And sometimes he lapsed into what they believed to be another personality entirely, with its own thought patterns and emotional basis and all that crap. It's not like he didn't know exactly what was going on in his head. He controlled everything that happened, he just also happened to want different things than normal during those random moments that could last for weeks without an end in sight. He always switched back, even if just for a minute sometimes. And so what if these events were completely random and could not ever be predicted even if science developed 100 years faster than it was supposed to. It still didn't mean he had to have pills to "balance him out"...

Those thoughts aside, he opened his door, preparing to be glared at and ignored by the two most important people in his life. Sadly, it seemed as if pain was quite attracted to him that day. As soon as his foot had solid contact, burning, stabbing pain shot up his leg.

His first reaction? Kick whatever was hurting him. Logical enough; however, as he was in mid-kick, he realized what exactly it was that was hurting him. Try as he might though, once his leg started kicking there was no stopping its destination. So it was to his utter horror that he was to then witness Itachi's beloved cat Kisa flying through the air, pant material still clutched in its claws from the defense of the cat's now squashed tail2.

Madara then spent the next half hour trying to get the dumb thing out of the bushes. He even slunk inside for some tuna – which it really was a miracle that he managed that, since both of the boys were usually eating in the kitchen by this time. Then again, it was pretty normal for Sasuke to be in his room. Itachi, however, was being rather unusual by not knowing everything that was going on. Madara shrugged, figuring there was a first time for everything.

Madara stopped trying to force the tuna upon the accursed cat, momentarily wondering why he was thinking in paragraph formation, in third person, and in a way that would explain not only his own actions but the actions of his beloved nephews – then a loud hiss rang through his ears, and warm blood trickled down his hand from the 15th cut that he had received that day, causing him to, of course, toss the tuna can up into the air.

For the second time that night, he watched in horror as something flew through the air. Tuna spilling everywhere, but conveniently for irony and coincidence's sakes only landing in Madara's hair and on his face. But he had to ignore all of that discomfort and repulsion to focus on the metal can's destination.

And, of course, it just had to land right on Kisa's head. Brilliant.

But, on a bright side, the cat was now out of the bushes. Madara smirked in triumph as he walked toward the cat, finally seeing an end to this terrible adventure. That is, until it decided to run very slightly sideways away from him, right into the road.

One good thought stuck in Madara's mind as he slowly made his way inside after watching Itachi's most beloved and treasured possession be flattened by a semi: Well, at least I know what to get him for his birthday.

Madara tried his hardest to tell Itachi about the series of unfortunate happenings that had lead to the demise of his beloved Kisa, but could never seem to bring himself to do so. Everything was just against Itachi knowing that his cat was gone forever, never to return to scratch Madara's face or bite Sasuke anymore, and certainly not to climb up the trees and jump in Itachi's window in the middle of the night to curl up and sleep with him. Madara tried, and tried, but it really wasn't his fault he could never get it out. How was he supposed to tell Itachi when the house just so happened to be filthy? Yeah, so what that he hadn't noticed the night before, it's not like he was going to leave it so dirty. And it certainly wasn't his fault that he wanted to work overtime as often as possible, or to start using a dry-cleaner who happened to be a few hours away from the house, and that he kept hooking up with friends and old acquaintances - it's not like it was his fault when he kept running in to people (so what if he had looked them up and had told them where he would be that day?) - the fact was that the world and universe just did not want Itachi to know what had happened to Kisa.

A few weeks later, however, his overtime was shot. There was no more work to be done, so he had to stay home for a few days.

'Oh well. It's just a few days. I'll just clean the house, keep the yard nice and tidy, then do a bit of laundry and the days should just fly by in no time,' Madara smiled, stretching for a while before climbing out of bed and downstairs to the kitchen.

"Good morning, Uncle," Itachi didn't bother looking up from his paperwork, too busy. Madara grunted, remembering why exactly he didn't want to talk to Itachi.

'Though I suppose I should,' Madara thought, opening the fridge on the daily adventure for food, 'Then again, this fridge is filthy. I wonder how much food in here has gone bad...? Well, no time to talk if there's rotting food in here. Someone could get sick if they accidentally ingested it!'

"Uncle, where did you last see the tape?"

"Uhhhh, probably in my room, on the side table. Why?" Madara started pulling things out of the fridge that he thought might be a health hazard, then also noticed that the shelves could use a bath. 'Might as well clean them too. No reason to be half-assed about it.' He put the food containers down on the table, then looked around for Itachi. He frowned when he didn't spot his nephew in the kitchen. 'I feel as if he should be here... Can't for the life of me remember why though.' Grunting again, he turned back to the fridge and began to pull it apart from the inside. 'Oh well. I have work to do.'

The shelves and drawers were all easy to pull out. Just lift and pull, lift and pull. Until the last one, which was completely against being removed from its current position. Madara sighed, pushing his bangs out of his face. 'You've got to be kidding me. It's stuck?' He grunted, sticking his head under the shelf to see what was keeping it there.

"The tape was not on the side table."

Madara's head shot up, making contact with the shelf in question. Good news: The shelf popped right out with no damage; the bad news: Madara now felt like his head was unfix-able. He stood back up straight, rubbing his head to make sure there was no blood or anything like that. 'Nope. Just a huge knot that will be there for the rest of my damn life.' He glared at his nephew, who just stood there calmly, holding out the shelf that had popped out. Madara took it, putting it in the sink with all the rest of them. "Well, if it's not there, I don't know what to tell you."

"It was on top of your dresser," Itachi turned back to his paperwork that was still laying on the table.

Madara frowned, looking at the back of his nephew's head, "You went into my room? That's a little private, you know. I'm pretty sure you're not allowed in there."

"If you are only pretty sure, how am I supposed to know if I can or not?"

Madara opened his mouth to talk, but found he had no response to something he didn't understand. He thought about it for a minute, then winced at the pressure that thinking put on his already damaged head. He decided to distract himself with conversation, since that always seemed to help people who didn't want to think about other things. "What did you need tape for?"

Itachi picked up the stack of papers he had been working with, organizing them to his liking, "I have decided to put up fliers around the town. I called around this morning to make sure it was all right with everyone, so I am going to be gone for a while. I believe Sasuke went to stay with a friend last night, so you will have the house to yourself. If you need anything, I will have my cell phone on me." Itachi picked up the tape and started to put on his jacket.

Madara huffed. "I don't like your tone. You're acting like you're the one raising me. Have you forgotten which of us is the elder?" At Itachi's silence, he decided to go on, "And what's with you knowing about Sasuke more than me? Shouldn't he have told me where he was going last night?"

Itachi sighed, putting on his shoes and fishing his keys out of his pocket, "He told you a week ago, and you agreed to it. It is not his fault you do not remember."

With a single "Huh", Madara decided to let that one go. "So, are the fliers a school project or something?"

Itachi frowned, momentarily losing the expressionless face that he always wore. "No." He handed Madara one of the fliers, "Kisa has gone missing. I was hoping that, if someone saw one of these fliers, they would bring him home." Itachi stopped getting ready to leave, staring at a picture of his cat on a flier. To most people, it would seem as if he was merely studying the paper; however, to the two people in the universe that halfway knew Itachi, it would be clear that he was indeed being emotional. Well, as emotional as an utterly monotonous person could ever be.

"So, Itachi... What do you think is in this cabinet?" Madara quickly moved away from that awkward atmosphere, opening a cabinet that had not been touched to his knowledge in at least 7 months.

"That is where you keep all of the important documentation. Insurance, the deed to your house, our birth certificates, the like." Madara heard the door open, then Itachi add, "I am leaving now. Sasuke may or may not be back before me. And do not forget to take your medicine while I am gone." The door shut, followed by a big sigh from Madara.

'I can't believe I ended up killing his cat...' Madara rummaged through the cabinet, deciding that organizing the papers was a better chore than washing out the fridge that had tried to kill him with brain damage.

After about a half hour of organizing documents to show to Itachi – since Madara wasn't sure what to keep or throw away, and he just assumed that Itachi would know better than he would – he found some rather old documentation. After scanning them a bit, he frowned rather sadly. The documents were from around the time of the deaths of Fugaku and Mikoto Uchiha, Sasuke and Itachi's parents. They weren't completely filled out, so they obviously had never been mailed anywhere. It seemed as if it was a way for the two brothers to go to counseling for 4 months, no charge.

Madara sighed sadly, remembering what the poor kids had been through. He looked around slightly, then noticed a pencil. 'Well, better late than never,' Madara thought, filling out the rest of the documents.

:: ::

1 Pretty much, a younger Sasuke used to always say that Itachi was the nicest, most selfless person in the world…well, not in those exact words, but in a way that a young child would (i.e. with much smaller words). In short, Itachi was thinking that, by helping Shisui, he was being the brother that Sasuke would always want and love. Sweet thoughts, no?

2 I want to make this very clear: I do not condone the abuse of animals. I love animals; I actually have a cat named Kisa, who I love very much. And, even though he only tolerates me and hates pretty much everyone else, I would never kick or hurt him in anyway, nor would I allow someone else to hurt him. And I would cry if he got ran over by anything.

Don't do drugs, kids. They're bad for you. Also, don't sell drugs. And eat your vegetables.