Author's note: flash-fic, fifteen minute drabble, written for nthcoincident. :)


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He stands at the river's edge, waiting in the murky hours just before daybreak. In the distance, he can make out Shisui's figure, waving and backrimmed by watery light.

Itachi lifts his eyes in silent greeting as his cousin claps him on the arm.

"You wanted to speak with me?" Shisui asks. Itachi bows his head.

"Shisui," Itachi says. "You shouldn't have come."

The gulls cry above them, and Shisui frowns.

"What's with that look?" Shisui says. Itachi takes a breath; it's long and drawn and strands of hair moves loosely in the breeze. "Itachi, what's wrong?"

"They want me to stop it, Shisui," Itachi says. His voice is soft; Shisui has to strain to hear. "They gave me orders - no one can survive."

"What?" Shisui's hand tightens into fists. "You can't mean-"

"Yes," Itachi says. His eyes flick upward. "They want me to slaughter our clan."

A breeze stirs. The grasses around them bend.

"Fucking dogs," Shisui says. "We have to tell the council - we have to move forward!"

"We can't." Itachi's eyes dim. He takes a ragged breath. "Shisui, I-"

"Oi." Shisui steps closer. "Itachi, it's okay. We won't let that happen, we won't-"

A knife plunges into Shisui's gut. Shisui's eyes widen.

"Forgive me," Itachi says.

He shoves the knife deeper. Shisui's weight stumbles onto Itachi's shoulder.

"It's called the Mangekyou Sharingan," Itachi says. "It's what will help me deal with our clan."

Shisui wheezes, leaning on Itachi's shoulder.

"They say you can attain it by killing someone precious to you," Itachi says. "Someone you love."

Itachi yanks out the knife. Shisui pitches forward, but Itachi catches him. Slowly, he lowers Shisui to the ground.

The blast of healing chakra to Shisui's gut surprises him. The knife wound knits, but it's superficial; his skin is clammy and he's hemorrhaging on the inside.

"So they won't know," Itachi says. And then, softly, "I'm sorry, Shisui-nii."

Shisui tries to speak, but his breath is caught in his throat. His mouth moves soundlessly, a fish guppy-breathing the air.

Itachi smooths his forehead, then brushes back the damp strands of hair from Shisui's eyes. He is crying. Shisui raises a hand toward Itachi's face. His fingers are limp. Blood smears on Itachi's cheek.

Then he's underwater. His body is a weight; he sinks, pockets of air bubbling around him, and above the surface he can just make out Itachi's figure standing at its edge.

He doesn't understand.

His vision dims. He sinks into the cold water, dead dark eyes staring up at the sky.

He doesn't understand.